Marriage can be a long and difficult journey, full of obstacles that seem 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 pitfalls.
1. Your heartbeat speeds up … but not because of your spouse
It may be a co-worker or someone you've dated in the past, but no one should come in between you loving your spouse. Sometimes this attraction is involuntary; you can't be expected to control the biochemical reactions in your body. However, even if your heart races and you start to sweat, there are some things you can do:
Use self-control. You may not be able to control how your body reacts, but you can control your thoughts and your eyes. Try to avoid getting into these situations as much as possible. Keep your thoughts solely on your spouse. Ask God to help you keep your focus on your spouse, and not on somebody else.
2. Your spouse is a little worse for wear
When you got married, your spouse was attractive, cheerful and had tons of qualities that you loved. As the years passed, you notice a few more pounds, more frowns than smiles and less desirable habits replacing the qualities you loved so much.
If this is the case, divorce is not the answer. Remember that the root of your marriage was, and still is, love. Early on, it may have been hidden by good looks or cool hobbies, but that love is still there. People change as they grow older; find ways to love how your spouse has changed instead of spending time being unhappy focusing on what used to be.
3. Someone else seems like "a better option"
This is a tempting thought, but is nowhere near the truth. Someone else may seem like a better option, but you are not realistically considering your relationship together. Just working with someone does not reveal the hassles of being at home, managing a budget or wrangling bedtimes for the kids.
What can you do to not fall into this trap?
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, that is something for you and your spouse to talk about together; not you and a co-worker.
If your relationship is abusive, then this statement couldn't be truer. However, if this thought crosses your mind after petty discussions and minor disagreements, then it's time to reevaluate.
Don't be tricked by this thought; ignore it completely. Don't let others tell you what you would be happy with. You know what is best for you, and know that you can find the good in your relationship. Honor the promises you made when you got married.
5. The spark is missing
There are several reasons for missing romance. Hormonal imbalances, depression, financial problems and exhaustion are only some of the reasons behind your missing spark. This is not a reason to dissolve a marriage.
To avoid this pitfall, talk about the issue. Many couples can work things out by discussing why intimacy is missing in their marriage. Seek expert help from doctors, nutritionists and counselors if necessary.
6. Your "honeymoon" stage is over
You used to do everything together and always felt butterflies. But time passes, and along come bills to pay and children to care for. The weight of life's responsibilities may seem to steal the charm that was there in the beginning. Many couples are tricked into thinking their love has disappeared, and only problems remain.
This is not true, however. Love adapts. At first you were euphoric and head-over-heels in love. Now your love is still there, just more serene, focused and realistic.
Realistically knowing that your "honeymoon" stage will end is crucial to avoiding many of these tricks. When you fall in love, realize that love changes. In every relationship, that passion will diminish. If the honeymoon stage is over, that just means it's time for you and your spouse to change your focus; focus on simple and quiet things in life, which are things that truly bring happiness.
Unfortunately, we are surrounded by novels, movies, music, magazines and opinions that tell us that these pitfalls are unavoidable. We are constantly told that divorce and infidelity are a part of life, and are necessary for happiness.
This is not true
Nothing compares to the security and happiness of a spouse that loves you. A perfect relationship does not exist, no matter whom you marry. Decide now to talk about the problems you see in your marriage, and give your all to make your marriage a happy one.
Next time that little voice tries to convince you that a pitfall is the right way to go, say loud and clear that you are in charge of your relationship. You love your spouse. You are in charge of your own happiness.
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.