“After a while, the newness wears off.” (Kellie Lee) – from my favorite daily blog, Jack’s Winning Words.
That statement is certainly true of most things in life. Sometimes we strive for things and when we get them they are new and shiny and satisfying…for a while. Then the newness wears off and we lose interest. What wanes is the passion and commitment that was there initially. The same can sometimes happen in relationships and marriages. It takes commitment to keep those relationships from becoming stale.
An example that may make sense in this car-crazy area is to look at the car collector/enthusiast and the difference in how he treats the object of that particular passion. Collectible cars in the hands of these people never grow old or boring; the newness never wears off, because they work at it all the time. They spend hours cleaning and polishing and maintaining their treasured cars. Even cars that might have once been considered cast-offs or ugly can be beautiful in the eyes of the right car fanatic. The difference is in the commitment that they make to the car. They find many things beyond the newness of it to satisfy them and justify their commitment of time and effort.
The same is true of relationships and marriages. Many relationships and not a few marriages likely stared in the heat of passion and sexual attraction. For some that was literally all that there ever was to the relationship; and when that cools, there is nothing left upon which to base the relationship. For many couples the changes that occur in those passion-based relationships when the first child is born are enough to tear apart the bonds. It’s sad, but all too many times divorces follow on the heels of the births of children. There is just not enough beyond the physical attraction to hold things together. Once a wife becomes a mother, too; many husbands cannot deal with no longer being the center of her universe. The newness has worn off and there may not be enough other than that to sustain the relationship.
Obviously, the car collector analogy breaks down over the concept of ownership vs. relationship. A relationship is not based upon one partner owning the other. The concept of ownership in relationships translates into possessiveness, which is usually a road to failure. Relationships are equal partnerships, with both parties expected to make commitments and put in work on the maintenance of the relationship.
That relationship commitment starts with an effort to recognize the needs of the other partner and a desire to work to meet those needs. There are tons of little things that are there every day to be recognized and done – opportunities to keep the newness in the relationship by surprising your partner with a little gesture, a loving kiss, doing a little chore without being asked or just knowing when to back off and give them the space that they may need.
One thing that is fairly consistent in successful, long-term relationships is constant feedback of love and commitment between the partners. It is important to both sides to continue to hear “I love you” from the other side. Implicit in that statement is the commitment that “I’ll be here for you when you need me.” No one wants to be alone, especially in times of need.
So, what is left in a successful relationship or marriage, after the newness wears off? I would say love and commitment. After all, if one keeps polishing and maintaining the relationship it will never grow old.
(Editors disclosure – celebrating 48 years of marriage in 2014 and still discovering new things about her to love.)