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“Out tonight sweetheart? How can we? The twins have their project due on Monday; my report has to be ready by Tuesday; the laundry’s half done, and I haven’t packed the lunches yet. We’ll go out some time soon, I promise. I don’t know when, but we will. Just not tonight.”

So you’re in a long-term, committed relationship. You wish could read each others’ minds. You’d love to be given what you want without having to ask. It would be great if you felt exactly the same way about everything. It should be easy, perfect, conflict free. It shouldn’t take any work.

I’d like to share a realization from almost 33 years of marriage. A committed relationship is imperfect but lovely. It takes work, but it’s well worth it.

In a previous blog, we reflected on the work needed to navigate any kind of relationship. We acknowledged the difficulties inherent in juggling different ways of communicating, different histories, needs, expectations. This is even more the case when we are with someone 24/7.

One way that we can build and maintain a loving partnership, is by making regular time to focus on each other. Despite all the other demands on our lives, it’s important to schedule in even a small amount of time for mutual fun and relationship maintenance. This can help us can help us see each other the way we did when we first made the choice to commit.

We can use this time to help each other let go of the stress brought on by the demands we navigate. Instead of wishing our partner could read our minds, we can use this time to clearly state our needs. We could work on negotiating to come up with compromise solutions to issues that come up during the week. In this way we could head off conflicts before they arise, and build a stronger and stronger bond.

“We always do the same things, eat the same food, have exactly the same conversations – it could almost be a script. We know everything about each other. My marriage is so blah, so predictable, so boring. Maybe it’s time to find someone else, someone different, someone exciting…”

Committed relationships typically go through change. That change, however, does not have to be from excitement to boredom. The beginning of a relationship can bring with it the thrill of newness and infatuation. It can come from learning new things about each other, trying new things together.

This does not have to end as your relationship grows. The time you make to focus on each other can be spent playing games that focus on exploring new things about each other. You can read books and take workshops together to explore new ways to interact sexually. You can find and explore new interests together.

You can also pay attention to the joy that comes with being with someone who knows you so well. You can be grateful to be with someone who knows all your “warts” and still loves you. You can get a kick out of being with someone who can finish your sentences.

Putting in the time and effort, we can actively make our relationships what we want them to be. We can build a partnership that can truly enhance our life journeys.

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