Have you looked back at your wedding pictures lately? Have you seen what you and your partner looked like when you were first dating, just getting to know and love each other? Who were those crazy young people? Do they bear any resemblance to you and your partner today? The effects of the passage of time on relationships are many, and not all of them are good.
They say you can’t go home again and looking back isn’t healthy, but I tend to disagree in this instance. I think that for couples in a long -term relationship, couples that have been married for many years it’s a very healthy exercise to take a trip down memory lane back to the exciting sexy beginnings of their relationship together. To see the effects of the passage of time and the rich and full life they’ve built over the years.
What the passage of time can do to couples is tend to blur those pictures and you can lose sight of who those people were and their evolution into the people looking at each other today. The passage of time can be looked at in a couple of different ways; either as a wonderful memory-filled journey that has built and created the beautiful relationship we have now. Or, as a thief that has stolen the best years of our lives and look at us now, we’re old and what do we have to show for all those years together?
When couples come to me for counseling they’ve often spent years together, the most recent years having been filled with building resentments, escalating conflicts and unresolved issues that have killed their emotional connection. They often don’t even remember what it feels like to have strong emotions for their partner other than anger, frustration or resentment.
We have to do a lot of work to have them feeling loved and important to one another again. Part of that journey is for them to remember why they chose their partner. What was it that attracted them to each other, what did it feel like to be absolutely head over heels in love with that person? Remember what it felt like to be completely absorbed and obsessed with each other? The touch, the scent, the feel of that person next to you and how just the sound of their voice on the phone could create such an overwhelming sense of passion and excitement. Just to be with them was euphoric and exciting. How long has it been since you felt that with your partner and wouldn’t you love to feel that again? How has the passage of time changed those feelings , or has it?
I always encourage newlyweds and young couples to keep a memory book, a journal. Photos of the places they’ve gone together, mementos of events they’ve shared. These journals become important later in the relationship. Should the connection ever feel like it’s being lost, the two can go back in time through the photos and journal and relive and share those memories together and remember why they love each other, the things that brought them together and the shared experiences that they’ve built their life with.
This doesn’t mean you stop making new memories. Get out there and have adventures , try new things , travel , stay active. Socialize with friends and family and create those moments. Take photos and add to the journals from your wedding and your dating life. The more the better! All the time you spend making these memories can only make your bond stronger and your connection deeper.
One thing that a lot of couples find fun is to revisit the sites that they went to when they were dating. It can be a great experience to see the sights again through your “older” eyes and try to recreate some of the photos that you took on some of those long ago dates, or on your honeymoon. It’s worth a lot of laughs to put those pictures side by side. Remember that making new memories and celebrating old ones is the best way to stay connected for life.
The passage of time doesn’t have to mean things get boring, connections get lost and you lose sight of why you fell in love with each other. If you strive daily to make each other feel like they matter, that you’re important. If you show love and appreciation for all your partner does to make your life richer and more beautiful, this can only make your relationship stronger and happier. So after years together, you’ll be able to look back with fond memories of a life well-lived and the evolution of a loving connection that’s only grown stronger with the passage of time.