As relationships mature and get and more comfortable we, (yes, pretty much all of us) tend to make less effort than we did in the early days, we slip. In many ways this is perfectly natural; we have the 'honeymoon period' where everything is perfect and we'd do anything to make the other person happy - or happier. Then as time goes by we settle into the routine of real life; we get confident in the relationship, we get comfortable, and realistically, we get lazy - yes, you too! The competition to be your partner's best match grinds to a standstill.
From this point on it often starts a very slow, almost imperceptible downward spiral where each of us sees the other not putting in the same amount of care without seeing our own lack of effort. And instead of picking up our own game, we wait for them to make the first move. That kiss on the cheek on your way to work, that "love you" when you hang up the phone; is it just lip service or does it have meaning?... Maybe we start to notice the changes in 'them' - not ourselves. Some of the differences that attracted us in the first place become irritating. And.....well you know the rest...
A wise man one said, "Ensure that everything you do, you do to the best of your ability". I tried to apply this in my growing up years and my career; I always did the best job I could. I'm pretty sure that if I ask anyone I know if they use the same approach to work, they will probably say yes, of course they do. We're all professionals, so we'd never admit to doing anything but our best. We have our careers and our reputations to think of after all. But apply that same question to our relationships and get an honest answer... Start with yourself, (go on, no-one's listening...) Do YOU work your hardest in your relationship, or are you competitive and expect your partner to be the one to inspire you to put the effort in? After all, "if he/she doesn't, why should I...?"
The only competition in a healthy relationship should be the one of who loves the most!!! Did I practice this theory in my first marriage and my past relationships? No, I didn't and I'm sure it had a lot to do with why they failed. Have I learnt from it and am I making more effort this time? Undoubtedly yes. Have I mastered it? Hell no!!!
It can be tough at the best of times and it's certainly tougher when things go wrong; when you fall out, when they hurt you, when you want them to be sorry for what they've done or not done. Even if you're totally faultless, can you put it behind you, pick yourself up and move on? Does an athlete hold a grudge when they get beaten? No, of course not, they come back tougher and stronger next time - are you big enough to do the same with your desire to love the most?
Someone once told me that any act that requires forgiveness should actually be unforgivable; the theory in this is that forgiving the wrong-doer only serves to make them feel better, not you. It doesn't fix the hurt, instead it belittles you and your feelings and merely paves the way to feel good about themselves again. This in itself is quite a controversial topic but the point I want to make is; it shouldn't matter what they do or don't do - they do not control how you react to events, only you do. Only you can put it behind you, move on and keep fighting to be the one to love more. Only when we all have this attitude will we start to see more relationships, more marriages starting to succeed in the long term rather than fail when the going gets tough!
You have YOUR standards, no-one else's, so stick to them. How you react is about who you are, not what happens to you - be the bigger person, keep loving more and see what comes back in return.
What are you going to do this week to go 'the extra mile' in your relationship?