A friend of mine told me that he had had revelation – a moment of epiphany he called it – as he realised that he is addicted to falling in love: the excitement, the warmth, the high, the getting to explore a new partner, and the other feelings that come with meeting a new person. He also told me that after that initial phase has passed, he has withdrawal symptoms that involve taking his partner for granted. He no longer has butterflies in his stomach when she calls and he no longer wants to go out of his way to please or to impress her. He said that he will eventually get married to the girl he is seeing now, but he misses the beginnings. Listening to him talk made me realise that most couples, knowingly or unknowingly, fall into this trap and the longer they stay with their partners, the more they take them for granted. The next thing you know, they are both unhappy and they have both forgetten why they even got together in the first place. This piece is an attempt to remind each man and woman who is in a relationship of the things they take for granted and shouldn't.
The chase is better than the catch. (False)
Do not take love for granted. (True)
1) Saying "I love you" – It is not enough to express it non-verbally as your partner will never get tired of hearing it.
2) Love tokens – As little and simple as they might be, they are the constant fuel in a relationship (love notes, CDs, little gifts, silly surprises, or even remembering how your partner likes his or her tea).
3) Smiling – It sounds trivial, but a little smile on your face when you see that special someone says that you love them, you are happy to have met them, and you are happy they are in your life.
4) Eye contact – The eyes are the windows to the soul and there is nothing better than a silent moment that reveals a loving soul.
5) Holding hands – Do not be embarrassed to walk down a crowded street holding your partner's hand; it just says "I am yours" in a deeper way than any words could possibly express. In front of the TV and at family visits is a bonus. Why do married couples stop holding hands? Why do married couples stop holding hands in front of their kids?
Love is a feeling that is born strong, but without the right maintenance it will fade away and you will be left with a sense of emptiness and lack of fulfilment. Some people, instead of looking for ways to revive the love they once had, begin hunting for the thrill outside of their relationship. Statistics tell us that 75,000 divorce cases have been ruled by Egyptian courts in 2006-2007 and that in 45,000 of those cases, the internet and online relations were the reason behind the divorce. Love has the potential to fade and an equal dimension for growth and transformation into a strong bond. Choose to neglect it and you end up alone.
I need my space = I do not need you. (False)
Do not suffocate the love or the partner or both. (True)
1) Who am I? – You no longer recognise yourself.
2) Where am I? – You no longer feel that you belong in that house with that person.
3) What do I want? – This is the first question an unfulfilled person asks.
4) Where would I rather be? – This is the need to escape kicking in.
5) Where are my friends? – This is when you feel isolated and unheard.
After marriage, a lot of men and women begin questioning their quality of life and they feel trapped. They feel that they have lost their identity along with the things they enjoyed doing before marriage. The next natural step is resenting their partner, their kids, and the whole relationship.
In her book "Facing Codependence", Pia Melody defines negative control as giving yourself permission to determine someone else's reality for your own comfort. According to Melody, negative control "happens whenever I give myself permission to determine for another person what he or she should look like (including dress and body size), or think, feel, and do or not do" There is also a flip side to negative control, which is "allowing someone else to control me."
Melody continues by stating, "Whenever I fail to determine for myself what I look like, what I think, what I feel, and what I do or don't do, and allow someone else to control any of those things for me, I am participating in negative control."
In attempting to change your partner, are not respecting his/her unique individuality and right to make choices. In failing to set boundaries for yourself and by allowing your partner/kids to consume you and your space, you are also failing to provide protected space for yourself and for your spouse to experience individual growth.
Without new growth and fresh input from each person, a relationship can stagnate and lack vitality. Being with a partner does not mean giving up on who you really are. My married friends no longer have time or space to pamper themselves; they are always on call and they feel that they are taken for granted by their partners and kids. A break is not a break-up and time on your own does not mean you no longer love your family.
It goes without saying. (False)
Do not neglect being attentive to your partner and do not neglect appreciating an attentive partner. (True)
1) Opening doors – No matter how liberal and independent, a woman enjoys being treated like a lady.
2) Carrying a heavy bag – No matter how many doormen are around, a woman appreciates being with a strong man who will rescue her from a heavy bag.
3) Putting on a nice dress – No matter how long you have been together, a man needs to know that you still care about how you look when he lays eyes on you, and no matter how little the change is, a woman appreciates a man who notices her hair, makeup, perfume, and clothes.
4) Cooking a romantic meal – No matter how many meals you have had together, a man who cooks is sexy and a woman who puts candles on the table is a diva.
5) Compliments – No matter how many times you have told her she is beautiful, a woman needs to hear compliments and no matter how rough your man seems, he needs to be seduced into loving you over and over again. We have two ears for a reason.
It's the little things that really count. Attention shows in the simple gestures that you send and receive from your partner. When was the last time you did something nice or said something sweet to your loved one?
Signed and sealed. (False)
Do not lose sight of the vultures out there trying to entrap your partner. (True)
1) Best friends – They have memories that go way back before the time when you met your partner. Reminiscing over memories is usually the gateway in this scenario. Be his/her best friend and create your own memories.
2) Colleagues – They work together and the other side of the fence usually looks greener. Have presence and involvement in your partner's work so whenever they need to talk or get advice, your door is open.
3) Facebook friends – This is an uncontrollable variable. "Pee" all over your partner's wall and notes. Be there!
4) Relatives – Far-fetched, but it happens. Hover around your partner and do not neglect your relationship with your mother-in-law; she is your best ally.
5) Exs – people have a tendency to realise the value of what they had after they have lost it. Just close that door.
Guilty until proven otherwise or innocent until proven guilty? Trust is one thing and taking your partner's faithfulness for granted is another. If you think that by suffocating your partner and tabbing his or her phone is a solution, then you are mistaken. There are two main ways to keep a faithful partner; first choose the right partner and do not go for someone who does not respect his or her vows, and, second, keep that partner loved, cared for, and satisfied.
Stolen pleasures. (False)
Do not break that bond; it is the glue of the relationship. (True)
1) Share a song.
2) Share a hobby.
3) Share a sport.
4) Share a daily/ weekly/ monthly/ annual ritual.
5) Share a special place.
No … it is not silly! It is only natural to have common interests and activities. Love is strong, but getting used to giving and receiving love in a certain way is stronger by far. Whether you are just getting to know someone, engaged, just married, or have been married for a long time, you need to work hard with your partner on this bond. After the initial intensity of love resides you are left with the things you two have in common. The more things you share the stronger your relationship becomes. I know of couples who take turns reading the newspaper headlines for one another every morning. I have heard of others who wrote their own "Things to do before we die" list. I also know of a lot of couple who have nothing to talk about at all and they are both vulnerable for all kinds of temptations.
I am the boss of you. (False)
Any fool can speak, but it takes a wise person to listen before they talk. (True)
1) Listen – Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood.
2) Show interest – Look your partner in the eye to show that you are interested.
3) Ask questions – It is not an interrogation, so do not be aggressive. Ask questions for clarification and for details.
4) Exchange stories – Day-to-day stories are a good start and childhood stories and anecdotes will fill the uncomfortable silence.
5) Talk – Not simple talk; talk about your thoughts and dreams. Let your partner know that you are there and that you plan to stay there.
When I was a kid and later on a teenager, my mom and dad spent hours watching TV everyday in silence. They barely spoke and they both seemed to be lost in worlds of their own creation. When I grew up I realized that this loss of communication was what killed their marriage.
Today, as the statistic pointed out, the TV screen has been replaced by the computer screen and couples who burnt their communication bridges find it easier to chat with strangers. What starts of as a casual conversation develops into speaking the unheard and falling in love with an imaginative man/woman rather than the partner who is no longer a partner at home. In many cases online relations do not remain as thus.
Communication is not accusation and avoid the "we need to talk" statement … we are all allergic to it. The rule of thumb here is: "never start a conversation with "you"; always start with "I" – I feel …. I need … I prefer … I think as opposed to you made me feel … you are not giving me … you do not do this or that … you are this or that."
I hate questions. (False)
It is not what you ask; it is how you ask. (True)
1) How are you?
2) How was your day?
3) Are you happy?
4) Do you love me?
5) Did you miss me?
And more questions to show that you care. When your partner stops asking questions of the sort, it means that they are holding back or that they are losing interest. But be careful … people hate being on the defensive, so you need to start by talking about yourself, and then ask. Talk about your day, and then ask about their day. Talk about how happy you are, and then ask how happy they are.
Sweet Little Things
Silly teenage things. (False)
100 lists are a great start and they are a great reminder of why you are with that person. (True)
1) 100 reasons why I love you.
2) 100 ways you make me happy.
3) 100 places I want to visit with you.
4) 100 gifts I've received from you.
5) 100 vows I owe you.
6) 100 words I have to tell you everyday.
7) 100 things I've learnt from you.
8) 100 things I promise to do for you.
9) 100 nicknames I've found for you.
10) 100 lists I will make for you.
Those are my personal suggestions of 100 lists … and when a list ends, start a new one. Get creative!
My way or the highway. (False)
No! Let's meet half way, or even better, let's take turns on going all the way for that special person. (True)
1) Let's not fight over friends.
2) Let's not argue about kids.
3) Let's not ruin a night over outings.
4) Let's not blame one another.
5) Let's not lose love for money.
One third of marriages in Egypt end within the first year and 50% of couples get divorced within the first fours years of their marriage according to statistics released this month by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS). The reasons range from financial problems, unrealistic expectations, sexual frustration, to personal differences and character clashes. Being together and staying together is no longer about what each one of you wants individually; it is about what the two of you want … together.
Bad things are done by good people who've made a wrong choice. (True)
1) Let's wash away grudges.
2) Let's get over past hurts.
3) Let's drop our baggage from previous partners.
4) Let's not judge if we do not understand.
5) Let's agree that to err is human, to forgive is an act of love, and to forget is divine.
What is the rate of infidelity in Egypt? I do not have an exact figure because of course this is one of the well kept secrets. But 41% of spouses admitted their infidelity be it physical or emotional. Shockingly enough, it is no longer a "man-thing"; 54% of women admitted to being unfaithful in any relationship they have had coming close to men's records at 57%. Many factors contribute to cheating but there seems to be a common belief among researchers that the 5 to 7 year mark of a marriage is the most likely time for infidelity to happen and once it happens the chances of it happening again substantially increase.
Of course, forgiveness may be at the forefront of the spoken word, yet if it is not sincere from the heart or the mind, rest assured the relationship will falter. Both partners live with the hostility, anger, frustration, and in an emotional state that mistrust creates, thus removing nearly all potential for true reconciliation. In contrast, true forgiveness is one of the most difficult aspects of the act of forgiveness, but if both partners are willing to learn, forgive, and trust again, the relationship can continue to evolve towards the positive.
While the common bonds of love are weakened, or even non-existent, the result is essentially a non-committal relationship that is quite literally, "hanging by a thread" at any given time. Both partners are driven apart and considerably miserable. The insincere commitment to the relationship paves the way to the possibility of infidelity occurring again and sometimes results in the act of infidelity by not only one partner, but by both partners.
Read the communication section again and agree with me that pain might go away with time but the injury needs to be healed and attended to. Do not take your mistakes or your partner's mistakes for granted. A scar could be overlooked, but a gaping wound will hurt forever.
Why do I need to thank you? (False)
Do not take this particular part for granted … please! (I am begging)
1) Thank you for coming into my life.
2) Thank you for wanting to be in my life.
3) Thank you for being in my life.
4) Thank you for staying in my life.
5) Thank you for giving a new meaning to my life.
Those last five points sound similar, yet they are so different. Lucky people meet their soul mates. Luckier people fall in love and are loved back. Those who get married to their loved ones are blessed. Those who keep the ones they love forever are more blessed. And those who realise the peace of mind and serenity that come with a happy fulfilling love relationship are the luckiest and the most blessed.