Upon asking him to explain, he said that, like the ocean, there are constant waves of emotion going on within a relationship, ups, and downs — some waves last for hours, some last for months or even years. The key is understanding that few of those waves have anything to do with the quality of the relationship — people lose jobs, family members die, couples relocate, switch careers, make a lot of money, lose a lot of money.
Your job as a committed partner is to simply ride the waves with the person you love, regardless of where they go. Because ultimately, none of these waves last. And you simply end up with each other.
“Two years ago, I suddenly began resenting my wife for any number of reasons. I felt as if we were floating along, doing a great job of co-existing and co-parenting, but not sustaining a real connection. It deteriorated to the point that I considered separating from her; however, whenever I gave the matter intense thought, I could not pinpoint a single issue that was a deal-breaker.
I knew her to be an amazing person, mother, and friend. I bit my tongue a lot and held out hope that the malaise would pass as suddenly as it had arrived. Fortunately, it did and I love her more than ever. So the final bit of wisdom is to afford your spouse the benefit of the doubt. If you have been happy for such a long period, that is the case for good reason. Be patient and focus on the many aspects of her that still exist that caused you to fall in love in the first place.” – Kevin
I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the readers who took the time to write something and send it to me. As always, it was humbling to see all of the wisdom and life experience out there. There were many, many, many excellent responses, with kind, heartfelt advice. It was hard to choose the ones that ended up here, and in many cases, I could have put a dozen different quotes that said almost the exact same thing.
Exercises like this always amaze me because when you ask thousands of people for advice on something, you expect to receive thousands of different answers. But in both cases now, the vast majority of the advice has largely been the same. It shows you how similar we really are. And how no matter how bad things may get, we are never as alone as we think.
I would end this by summarizing the advice in one tidy section. But once again, a reader named Margo did it far better than I ever could. So we’ll end with Margo:
“You can work through anything as long as you are not destroying yourself or each other. That means emotionally, physically, financially, or spiritually. Make nothing off-limits to discuss. Never shame or mock each other for the things you do that make you happy. Write down why you fell in love and read it every year on your anniversary (or more often). Write love letters to each other often. Make each other first. When kids arrive, it will be easy to fall into a frenzy of making them the only focus of your life…do not forget the love that produced them.
You must keep that love alive and strong to feed them love. Spouse comes first. Each of you will continue to grow. Bring the other one with you. Be the one that welcomes that growth. Don’t think that the other one will hold the relationship together. Both of you should assume it’s up to you so that you are both working on it. Be passionate about cleaning the house, preparing meals, and taking care of your home. This is required of everyone daily, make it fun and happy and do it together.
Do not complain about your partner to anyone. Love them for who they are. Make love even when you are not in the mood. Trust each other. Give each other the benefit of the doubt always. Be transparent. Have nothing to hide. Be proud of each other. Have a life outside of each other, but share it through conversation. Pamper and adore each other. Go to counseling now before you need it so that you are both open to working on the relationship together. Disagree with respect to each other’s feelings. Be open to change and accepting of differences. Print this and refer to it daily.”
Written by Mark Manson
Originally appeared on Mark Manson