Your love story isn’t over after you say “I do.”
Read on to put the spice back in your love life.
Recently, a dear friend walked down the aisle to publically join her life with her beloved. The pastor, a good friend of theirs, spoke of the power of stories to shape our lives. Stories about our families, our work, the logistics and details we write each day. But the most compelling stories in our life, he said, are our love stories.
The stories of our heart’s capture, the story of finding within the presence of another our safe harbor. I knew much of this couple’s love story and it was compelling in every way. It was, as many are, nothing short of a miracle. How and when their paths had crossed, the many ways their stories, hopes, dreams, goals, values fit snuggly together as if they had inadvertently crafted a life that would fit perfectly in the arms of the other.
All couples have their own unique love story. I have been blessed to hear hundreds of them over my career and each day I add to the love story being crafted by me and my beloved. What struck me as this pastor spoke was while each love story is its own miracle, each story with its own declaration of solidarity and love, so often this is where we lay down the pen as if the final chapter of one’s love story ends with “I do.”
Many couples soon after immersion into the daily grind begin to forget the next chapter, with or without their attention, is still being written. Somehow the story of work, bills, obligations, differences and conflicts eclipse the most compelling story of all. I see this in the lives of the couple’s who come to see me. As couples are gently brought back to their own compelling love story — eyes soften, smiles emerge, tears of longing fall. This story is still compelling while the love story they have been writing lately is wracked with neglect and hardship.
In our early love story, without realizing it, we bring all our attention to our lover. While we still go to work and pay bills — we give focused intention to our next moment when we can be together. What will we do? Where will we go? We listen with focus, we touch and we gaze. We hold and caress. We attend like a smitten author to each word of this amazing story through our attention to the details of our love. We bring the best of us and offer it to the other as a demonstration of our love, trust and vulnerability. We are in our safest harbor. We are captivated and our story compels us. It overshadows all other stories in our life.
So what happens? Why do we so often fail to continue to write a compelling love story — the intentional embodiment of the miracle of our love? Let me highlight a couple of powerful forces at work that grab our attention and seek to pull our attention away.
The wild and wonderful brain chemicals of romance diminish within the first four years of a relationship. In the old days of desperate survival — this got us pregnant and a child to two in the protection of two bonded people. Thousands of years later, we now marry 10–20 years after ‘the urge to merge’ has possessed us, marry for this precarious thing called love and seek to marry for life.
We do this because we are hard wired for intimacy and pleasure … even after these brain chemicals have faded back. But this is not an easy task. It requires an awareness of what is going on in and around us.
After the brain chemicals have faded, couples must create these delicious sensations through regular and deliberate eye gazing, intentional listening and loving touch.
Intimacy and erotic desire are fostered through both comfort and familiarity and variety and wonder. Anticipation, longing, deliberate attention and loving surprise are needed to keep anticipation and appreciation alive and well. This requires your attention and planning! It won’t happen on its own.
If you have been in a relationship for several years, I invite you to think for a bit about your early love story. What kind of attention and open presence did you bring to your beloved? What kind of fun did you plan? What were the joys you shared? How did you build anticipation? How did you demonstrate your appreciation?
Now think about the love story you have been consciously or unconsciously writing in these last few years. Has the vibrancy and intention of your story taken a back seat? Is it like the secret garden — long forgotten and ignored? Is it the story you want to write together? To live daily? To leave as your legacy of love?
If not, I invite you to take your story off the shelf, dust it off and read the first chapter again. Then grab a pen and find the next blank page. Bring back the kind of intention, attention, planning and presence that is crafted into every good story. Make a point to do something fun and pleasurable together each day — from flirting in the kitchen, to sending a saucy text, to a long peace-filled hug at the end of the day letting all the stress run off, as you feel your body pressed close to your beloved.
This is your love story; your miracle; your gift — write a story you love.
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