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Yes, we fell in love … but now … am I falling out of love?

I stumbled upon a really good read this past weekend …

The first line of Alisa Bowman’s book reads as such,” I knew something was terribly wrong with my marriage when I planned my husband’s funeral.”

Yes, the “falling in love” part is what we read about, fantasize our entire lives, and aspire towards. But who ever talks about what to do if you find yourself (dare we say it?) fall out of love with your significant other?

In Project : Happily Ever After, Alisa shares her story of falling in love, falling out of love, and then doing the hard work to fall back in love with her husband, Mark.

“When we were out of love, I was so angry and resentful that I planned Mark’s funeral on the off-chance he would conveniently drop dead,” explains Alisa.

This might come as something too shocking to read, but truth be told, there are plenty who will identify. Perhaps not so with the “death” part, but almost always definitely, one might entertain the idea of getting into their cars, leaving and never returning.

That was exactly what happened to Alisa. The straw that broke her camel’s back was when she returned from a business trip to New York to a house that was abnormally quiet. “Where is she?” she asked Mark, enquiring after the whereabouts of their daughter. He had forgotten all about picking up their daughter from daycare. As he raced out to pick up their daughter, Alisa found herself debating whether that night was The Night she asked for a divorce. She wanted to cut him loose from her life; he felt like a giant dead weight.

But her friend, who had advised her to seek counselling, kept invading her thoughts, and she kept hearing her friend say, “What have you tried to work on your marriage?”

That was Alisa’s turning point. That very night, she went on the internet, and purchased 12 marital improvement books.

I have been to so many weddings; heard so many speeches toasting to the bride+groom. And one of the comments that stuck with me the most was this, “Marriage is like a garden. If we sit back and expect it to take care of itself, it will fall into ruin. IF we weed the garden, it will thrive. If we weed, water and feed the garden, it will grow.”

So, in the same way, in order for a marriage (or relationship) to flourish, we can’t just sit back and let the weeds take over. We have to find where the weeds are, extract them, and then infuse the garden with seeds that will help it grow to the best that it can be.

With that in mind, here are a few weeds to keep an eye out for, as well as some seeds to think about planting in your garden:

WEEDS

1. Taking each other for granted

How often do you use the words, “Thank you” or “I appreciate you” in your daily conversation with your beloved? When was the last time you wrote a special card to your partner, expressing to them how much you love what they contribute to your relationship? A word of gratitude not spoken can eat away at a heart that is well-meaning, so take time today to send your partner a surprise text with a simple message, such as “Love you for who you are”, or “Just thinking of you”. And if the words are hard to come by, think back into the past days of courtship and imagine what you might have said to each other then.

2. Inattention

You shouldn’t expect to be the centre of attention but the lack of attention can be a big problem too. This weed needs to be removed as soon as you see it growing in your garden. Address the problem by talking about what’s causing the inattention. Could it be related to stress at work? Or problems cropping up at home that is causing fatigue (and hence inattention)? The lack of attention is almost always as a result of a more deeply rooted problem, so open the lines of communication to find the solution, and get that attention for each other back into your relationship!

3. Self-Righteousness

For many of us, self-righteousness come so naturally that we often don’t even realise we are doing it until we’re being self-righteous. People who act as if they are always right put themselves into the controlling role and damage their relationships by demeaning, insulting and punishing their mate. And that is an awful weed to have in your garden! It is destructive and hurtful at the same time, and the victim would be your relationship. So take out the need to judge and to be right, and learn to be empathetic. Take a moment and walk a mile in your partner’s shoes to understand their world, and you will open you and your partner to a richer and more fulfilling life together.

SEEDS

1. Change your marriage by changing yourself

This is a hard one to embrace as most of us have an inner child that screams, “But it’s his fault, it’s not my fault?! He’s the one who needs to change!” The reality, however, is that you can change yourself a lot more easily than you can change your spouse. By embracing self improvement, you will in turn move your marriage (or relationship) to a better place. And you can betcha bottom dollar that your spouse (or signficant other) will come along for the ride!

2. Create the marriage that you want

People often complain that their marriages are stale, or they no longer have interesting conversations, or it’s boring in their marriage bed. So … what’s the solution? Well, if you want to have interesting conversations … create them! If you want a more exciting time in your bed with your partner, get creative and make it happen!

Be the affection that you want to see in your marriage. Be the spark that you want to have ignited.

“Be the change that you want to see.” Ghandi.

3. Ask for help; say what you want

Talk. Talk talk talk talk talk! I can’t emphasize that or repeat that enough times. Men and women are wired differently. When you tell your partner that you are “fine”, chances are he will believe it. When you tell him, “don’t worry about it,” he won’t. Worry about it, that is.

Yes it can be difficult to ask for help. It makes most of us feel emotionally vulnerable and naked. But that’s so much better than not saying what you mean or feel. But asking for help is life changing; it teaches us to embrace our flaws, and once we accept that we are not perfect people who can do everything, it can be an amazingly freeing feeling.

Photo : Wild{Whim} Design + Photography

…so there you have it, a few tips on maintaining your garden of love and keeping that love strong in your marriage or relationship!

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