Have you ever looked across the breakfast table and asked yourself "Just who is this person I'm married to anyway?" Maybe the two of you have been together for a quite a while, and you know that you still love each other, but the relationship is going a little stale and it's not as much fun as it used to be. Perhaps the sex is not quite as frequent as it was at the beginning and what's there is fairly predictable. You foresee a future of finishing each other's sentences, bickering about who is going to take out the garbage, deciding which DVD to rent on Friday night. You are aware of the statistics on marriage. The chance of a 1st marriage ending in divorce over a 40 year period is 67%. 50% of all divorces will occur in the 1st 7 years. And you wonder – is this where we're headed?
Our culture has a myth about this stage in a relationship's life. Our culture's "story" is that at this stage you have two choices: leave it and start over with someone else, or stay and make do with the one you're with. The assumption is that if you stay you won't be having much fun or excitement and life will continue to be dull and boring. This is total bunk. Too often a good marriage is taken for granted rather than given the nurturing and respect it so richly deserves and desperately needs.
Remember when the two of you first got together? Maybe you looked across the room and saw each other and something just "clicked"; you melted into love. Or you had known each other for a while as friends, and gradually you each started to realize that you had slipped into something deeper. The two of you saw the essence of each other so clearly that you just knew that you wanted to be with each other. Your two paths had crossed for a reason and you saw the possibility that this was becoming a shared path. You had someone special in your life to share your passion with.
All through your early relationship, you played and dreamed. Perhaps you danced, laughed, took trips together, or hung out doing nothing with each other. You may have shared your past, the events which shaped you, told family stories, and shared where you came from. You dreamed of a future; of a future together. You made up stories of what it would be like. You dreamed and talked about the wedding, the careers, the children, the house, the vacations, the activities that the two of you would share. You created a shared dream of what the two of you would build together.
At some point, reality started taking over your dreams. You looked around at what was really happening, and adjusted your dreams accordingly. Maybe the wedding didn't happen and that turned out to be OK. Maybe the careers weren't as exciting and fun as you had hoped but that was OK too. Children either came, or not, and the reality of the absence of presence of children had an impact on the large dose of reality in your lives. Vacations were still fun and exciting, but the non-vacation time was not the fun and carefree times of your past. Something was gained, but something was lost also.
Life became routine. Your dreams faded and talk centered on what needed to be taken care of; what bills to paid, schedules to be synchronized, the kid's needs to be taken care of first. Sex was fit in as best you could based on having enough energy and fitting in a schedule of other activities. The kid's teen years took over your relationship. Maybe you still went on dates together, but even then, you talked about the reality of your life, not your dreams. You may have noticed some frustration has crept into the conversations; maybe you aren't exactly communicating on the same plane anymore. At some point you have a thought that you are no longer quite sure just why you got together in the first place, and this thought scares you.
You think to yourself, "Is this all there is"? You think, "What's next"? "Just who is this person I'm with, anyway"? You've lost sight of your dreams together, maybe you aren't exactly living the dream life you thought the two of you'd have at this point, and you don't have a new dream in place. Maybe the kids are about to move on -- to college, to new places, to new jobs -- and you see the two of you rattling around your home together with nothing left to talk about. The future looks a little uncertain and maybe a little boring. Sometimes, late at night, you feel alone, full of fear, hopelessness, and a lack of direction. It's just not as fun as it used to be.
This is a turning point in your relationship. This is when your relationship gets to grow into something richer and more satisfying than you ever thought possible. I see this stage in committed relationships as a natural progression from creating a base of resources to creating a legacy. You now have a strong base of experience to draw from; the two of you together have such a rich and varied understanding of life that wonderful futures can be created. You have resources you didn't have before, you have abilities you didn't have before, you have wisdom you didn't have before. Possibilities that were never dreamt of in your earlier years are now possible.
This is the time for your relationship to re-dream its vision. It is a time for renewal and reigniting your passion, for life and for each other. There is a reason the two of you came together, beyond the accumulation of material goods, beyond having a family, and beyond making a place in the world as an individual. Your relationship has a purpose of its own. Perhaps the two of you are to create a new business, create a non-profit organization, teach at a local college, or write a book. Perhaps you are meant to travel and share your adventures with others, or create art and share your unique perspective with others. Perhaps you are meant to learn how to create a truly happy marriage and be an inspiration for others. This is the stage in your life where your essences, your dreams, and your shared realities hit the road together.
The two of you have a legacy to pass on to the world. That legacy may yet to be explored, planned, and made real. You may not even have a clue of what it might be; or you might have some inkling. There is a reason that the two of you now have this shared history together. There is something for the two of you to do together, be together, or have together that will impact the world around you in a new way. And the exploration of this together, the planning of this together, the building of it together will reignite your relationship. You will find the fun and joy in being together; you will renew your purpose in being together.
Taking this path will encourage you to build new skills together. It may not be easy. It will take courage. And it will be hugely rewarding. You will see yourselves in a new light, changing your perspectives of what life is all about for you. It will allow you to increase your relationship skills: communication, intimacy, collaboration, affection, curiosity, playfulness, trust, commitment, openness. It will allow you to draw on your previous abilities in new and interesting ways; you will learn intellectual flexibility and bring problem solving to a whole new level. Passion will re-enter your life. And what's doubly great about this is that unlike your earlier years together when you were rushing to build the career, buy the house, and raise the kids, you now have the space to go at your own pace. You can now enjoy and fully appreciate the process.
So here is my wish for you. Look deep inside yourself. Relax and take a deep breath into your heart. What is your dream for your relationship? What do you see as the possibilities for your relationship's impact on the world? How clearly do you see how to make those dreams a reality? What are the steps to this new reality? What's in the way of you making this real? What support do you need to have in place? And if you want additional support for making this happen, call me; that's what I'm here for -- to help the two of you restore your dreams, your passions, and make them a reality.