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Keeping a Marriage Fresh

Fueling the Spark

The spark ignites when you fall in love, and then you nosedive into fiery love oblivion. It's natural to romanticize the notion of happily ever after. It's part of the human condition.

After you say I-do and the honeymoon period is over, real life sets in, and that is when the work begins. It's not easy to make the doldrums of the day-to-day repetition exciting. You have jobs, school, kids, church, and other obligations that take you in directions that often interfere with your balance. Whether you have been married for six months or sixty years, it is important to keep your marriage alive. You need to work at keeping your relationship a priority.

Spending the rest of your life with just one person is both comforting and daunting because we want that lifelong stability but also worry about whether we have made the right decision. Namely that the person you chose is actually yours forever. Ultimately, we all seek someone to walk hand-in-hand down life's pathways. The journey is a shared one; all of the experiences, good and bad, are encountered together.

They say whom you choose to marry should also be your best friend. I agree with this notion wholeheartedly.

I have been married to my husband, photographer Jonni Armani, for 26 years. We were high school sweethearts and dated for nearly ten years before getting married. Without realizing it, we learned early on how to keep things interesting.

We worked hard all week to play hard on the weekends. We sought new adventures and traveled extensively around our region. Our zest for seeking adventures has taken us to many exciting places over the years, and after having three kids, we haven't let that stop our quest to explore new roads.

Having been together for over three decades, we are often asked what we do to keep our relationship thriving. I often have to stop and think about it. There are many different answers that I could come up with depending on the day. Like most, we have our good and our bad days. What works one may not work the next.

The principal thing you can do in a marriage is to keep the communication flowing. It may not always be the most important conversation, but sometimes those talks may be life-altering. It doesn't matter, just as long as you practice talking to each other. It's easy to sink into parenthood, your jobs, or other distractions that are innately designed to create a wedge between you. If you are a couple pulled in a hundred different directions at any given moment, schedule a time for the two of you. It doesn't need to be a long session; just set aside time to touch base with one another.

To that end, find ways to infuse laughter into your lives. They say laughter is the best medicine, and I can't agree more. My husband is probably one of the funniest people I have ever known. He had me laughing from the moment I met him, and he still makes me smile and giggle and sometimes guffaw. Sharing a laugh with your spouse clears stress and opens things up for more meaningful dialogue, and the bonus; some studies show laughter releases feel-good hormones.

Send each other little notes during the day. It doesn't take much to send a quick text message that lets your person know you are thinking about them, even if it's just an emoji.

Make time for each other. We schedule frequent date nights. You must date your spouse. Before having kids, we could go out whenever possible, but after having kids, sneaking away is not always easy. If you have kids, get a babysitter, and do something together that encourages you to enjoy each other's company and reminds you why you got together in the first place. You did not join your kids' lives; they joined yours. Also, going on date night does not mean you have to spend a fortune or do something beyond your means. Go for a walk along a romantic path, rent a canoe on a lake, go see a show, or grab a cup of coffee. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do it together.

Lastly, always remember to maintain your interests; that is what made you the person your spouse married.

Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without.

~James Dobson

  • Jonni Armani and Shelly West
  • Jonni Armani and Shelly West