Marriage can be a long and difficult journey, full of obstacles trying to keep you from being happy in your relationship. But don't be discouraged or distracted. If you want to keep your marriage and family together, learn to recognize and avoid these six pitfalls:
1. Your heartbeat speeds up but not because of your spouse
Your heart rate may increase after seeing a co-worker or someone you've dated in the past, but no one should come in between you and your spouse. Sometimes attraction is involuntary; you can't always control biochemical reactions in your body. However, if your heart races and you start to sweat, there is something you can do:
Use self-control. You may not be able to control how your body reacts at first, but you can control your thoughts and your eyes afterwards. Keep your thoughts solely on your spouse. Ask God to help you focus your thoughts on your spouse and away from distractions.
When you got married, your spouse was attractive and cheerful with many qualities you loved. As the years pass, there may be a few pounds gained, more frowns than smiles, and new habits that replace old endearing ones.
If this is the case, divorce is not the answer. Remember the root of your marriage was love. Early on, it may have been hidden by good looks or cool hobbies, but that love was still there. Find it again. People change as they grow older; find ways to love how your spouse has changed instead of spending time focusing on what "used to be."
3. Someone else is a more preferable option
This type of thought may enter your mind, but it is not the truth. A certain someone may seem like a better option, but you are not realistically considering your relationship together. Just working with someone does not reveal how that person would handle hassles in the home, managing a budget, or wrangling bedtime with the kids.
What can you do?
Avoid discussing your marital problems with others. Don't complain to casual friends or co-workers about issues at home. Find the positives in your relationship to tell others about. If you are having problems in your marriage, you and your spouse should talk about it—not you and a co-worker.
If your relationship is abusive, then this statement is true. However, if this thought crosses your mind after petty discussions and minor disagreements, then it's time to reevaluate.
To avoid this thought from becoming a pitfall, ignore it completely. Also don't let others tell you what will make you happy. You know what is best for you. Find the good in your relationship. Honor the promises you made when you got married.
5. There is no physical romance
There are several reasons for a lack of physical affection in a relationship: hormonal imbalances, depression, financial problems, exhaustion, and more. But these are not reasons to dissolve a marriage.
To avoid the pitfall of ending your marriage because the fire is gone, talk about the issue with your partner. Many couples can work things out by discussing why sex and affection are missing in their marriage. If necessary, seek expert help from professionals like doctors, nutritionists, and/or psychologists.
6. The honeymoon stage is over
You used to feel constant butterflies around that girl or that guy. The two of you wouldn't do anything you couldn't do together. But time passes, and along come bills to pay and children to take care of. The weight of life's responsibilities may seem to steal the charm that was there at the beginning. When this happens, many couples think love has disappeared and only problems remain.
The truth is love adapts, changes, and grows. At first you were head-over-heels in love. Now the love you feel is more serene, focused, and mature.
Acknowledging your honeymoon stage has an end date is crucial to keeping this pitfall from ruining your marriage. In every relationship dating giddiness diminishes. Once the honeymoon stage is over, allow you and your spouse to change focus. Focus on the meaningful parts of love that bring lasting happiness.
Unfortunately, novels, movies, music, magazines, and loud-voiced opinions surround us telling us pitfalls like these are unavoidable. We are constantly told how divorce and infidelity are a part of life and sometimes necessary for happiness.
Nothing compares to the security and joy found in a loyal relationship. Perfect relationships don't exist, no matter whom you are with. Decide now to talk with your partner about the problems you will run into in your marriage, and promise to give your all to make your marriage a happy one.
Next time a little voice tries to convince you giving into one of these pitfalls is not so bad after all, say loud and clear: "I am in charge of my relationship. I love my spouse. I am in charge of my own happiness, and no one will change that."
Erika Strassburger is Brazilian, mother of three cute and funny boys. She earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration 20 years ago. Now, she works as a freelance writer and translator. She loves oil painting and ventures sometimes in this artistic work.