Bedwork 6: Combat Habituation

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

Today Eric and I celebrate our 15th anniversary. This is pretty spectacular considering people were taking bets at our wedding on how long we would make it. At our reception, one woman whispered in Eric’s ear, “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you.” No lie.

I suppose they had reason to be concerned. It had taken us 6 years to make it down the aisle, with plenty of break-ups and tears and screaming matches between our first date and our vows. We were back then, and still are today, extremely feisty. I use the term feisty to make it sound nice and glossy, but I probably should use terms like driven, passionate, outspoken and direct. We have had all the wonderful ups and bumpy lows that go with those traits. But slowly, I mean s  l  o  w  l  y, over the years we have learned how to harness our strengths for good instead of evil, and I wouldn’t trade our partnership for anything in the world.

As I reflect upon it, one of the core aspects of our relationship is that we do not take each other for granted. Of course, in any marriage there is the tendency to get used to what is in front of you day in and day out. Psychologists call this problem habituation, and it truly is deadly in a relationship. When you get lulled into the comfort zone of thinking you know everything there is to know about your spouse, you stop looking, and as you stop looking, you stop seeing, and then you don’t notice when your spouse changes and grows over the years. It’s no wonder that the empty nesters are the one demographic in which the divorce rate is rapidly rising. Once the kids are gone, so is the glue that holds the relationship together because they stopped seeing each other years ago.

But Eric and I walked into marriage with tragic reminders that life is preciously short. I was a cancer orphan by the time I was 21, and he lost his dad to cancer at 25. We were determined to never take each other for granted because, morbidly put, we simply don’t know how long we will have each other. So, for example, to combat habituation in our relationship, I actively watch how others perceive Eric in our social and work circles. When we get lulled into the drudgery of running the household, balancing schedules and making sure our daughter gets fed, people outside our relationship remind me of his witty sense of humor, his creative brain and his wicked smile. I am reminded once again of how much I adore him. I become intentional once again to balance the drudgery with passion. These outsiders’ perspectives keep mine fresh.

So here’s your Bedwork for the week: When you are out in a social setting with your spouse (church, restaurant, the hockey rink, a dinner party, etc.), pay close attention to how people interact with you spouse. Learn from it. Be inspired by it. Be curious about it. Allow it to breathe some freshness back into your relationship.

Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets to a Lifetime of Intimacy.

2 replies
  1. Debbie Speed
    Debbie Speed says:

    That was splendid and oh so insightful. That is a powerful comment, it is absolutely true, view how people see your spouse and appreciate all those qualities you tend to take for granted after awhile. Those of probably some of the things like lit your wick to begin with. LOVED THIS

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