As a Sandwiched Boomer with changing family responsibilities, you have the toughest of balancing acts – attending to kids, parents and personal needs while still nurturing your marriage. You may envy celebrities like Madonna who seem to have it all – a personality that draws people in, the adoration of fans, an exciting life and strong feelings of omnipotence. However, this can be a mixed blessing, resulting in life experiences that are far more seductive than the ordinary routine of a partnership – even if you are married to Guy Ritchie.
Can you relate to the possibility of a deteriorating relationship? While you were busy and preoccupied with growing children and aging parents, your marriage may have taken a back seat to the goings-on in your hectic household. And for the first time in years – without the buffer of family, now that your children are on their own – you realize that you and your partner have grown apart. Instead of considering divorce like so many superstars, now is the time to realize that your marriage can have a second chance. What follows are some tips to help you reconnect with your partner and reignite the spark:
1. More concentrated time together has many benefits. Even though it may cause long term problems in the marriage to surface, you can use this opportunity to finally deal with them. Marital issues are difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be more honesty, a renewed sense of trust and greater intimacy. This may be the time to go on that couples’ retreat or marriage enrichment weekend you’ve heard so much about.
2. Give your relationship the gift of time. Create moments of calm and pleasure in celebration of your relationship. Feel more treasured as you watch the dividends of your long term emotional investment grow.
3. Invite your partner to set aside an afternoon to spend together. Plan an activity that you’ll enjoy: rent a bicycle built for two, leave work early and meet at a museum, enjoy a picnic lunch at the park. Take a long cut. Stretch out the event itself and make it last.
4. Create a romantic and intimate evening at home. This has likely been on your ‘to do’ list for a long time, so here’s your chance to make it happen, time and again. Turn on soft music, build a fire, light the candles. Cook a gourmet dinner together and share that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
5. Decide to explore a new area of interest together. It could mean taking a cinema class at the local community college, becoming more active in your local government, writing your memoirs to pass down through the generations, taking ballroom dancing lessons. Discovering fields that are new to you both allows each of you to enjoy the process without being critical or competitive. You can laugh at your errors as you learn together.
Perhaps you think that infusing a marriage with renewed commitment sounds boring, compared to the antics of pop idols with pizzazz and charm. Yet in our celebrity-obsessed culture, know that there is real value in working on your marriage. Although it will include making hard choices – like listening to your partner’s point of view, going straight home, saying you’re sorry – you’ll be glad you did.
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