Topic: process of falling in love when newly married
How can I fall in love with my husband? I like him, but what does falling love really look like? Can you still fall in love after being married for a while or is this just some kind of hype we are shown in the movies and music.
The process of falling in love is real, and it’s unfortunate to see many Muslim speakers discuss this topic as something that is false or even bad simply because of how it’s realised in the media or in the day to day lives of those who haven’t found guidance from Islam yet regarding gender interactions.
I have a unique way of describing how this process occurs and fully believe that any couple, no matter how long they have been married, can experience this sensation over and over again. In other words, it’s not just “a honeymoon phase” which then dies forever, paving the way for decades of marriage misery.
In fact, the falling in love process is available to all couples at any time.
So why, then, does it seem only available to those about to marry or the newly married?
Quite simply, it has everything to do with vulnerability.
The process of falling in love requires that two people take small risks with another person to open themselves up, put a piece of their heart out there, and wait for a response.
When a positive response comes, there is happiness and a desire to open up a little bit more. As the process continues, more and more is revealed, until finally, you find two people who are madly in love with each other.
What happens in marriage is that after some time, people stop being vulnerable.
They stop taking small risks and stop putting their best comments, thoughts, intentions and actions into the relationship.
Over time, small fights and hurtful words take over, and there aren’t enough positive risks being taken - leading to the dreaded “marriage misery.”
People look back at the beginning and wonder why things then seemed so effortless back then, and how they were so happy.
They are told it’s because their marriage was new, and there was so much excitement getting to know each other, but now that you know everything about your spouse, there is nothing left to discover. Hence, if not miserable, marriage should be a mediocre experience.
This perception is not only wrong, but damaging. While it’s true in life that newness sparks excitement, it’s not the only way to experience passionate relationships.
I have four children, and despite living many years with them, my eldest about to turn seventeen, I don’t feel there is nothing exciting about her, nothing new to learn, and nothing but misery ahead for us as a mother and daughter.
I also value the friendships with other women that I’ve had for many years now and never run out of something to talk about or discuss with my closest friends.
In fact, most of us do not believe the misery stereotype about any other relationship except marriage!
I find that every day, there is something new to discover or observe about my own husband masha'Allah, and even more to reveal about myself.
The beautiful comfort of knowing one’s spouse and feeling at home with them isn’t at odds with always finding ways to be vulnerable, passionate and excited about each other.
The reality is that without positive consistent actions and sacrifice, all relationships would sour at some point.
Here are some tangible things to practise in this regard:
Bring back small physical gestures: Stroke your husband’s hand while he is driving, or embrace him in a sensual hug before he leaves for work. Wait for the return on that action. Rather than demanding instant return, let it simmer. Put the energy out there, and give him space to return his own vulnerable response.
Express genuine desire: “I miss you,”or “I am looking forward to lunch with you on Saturday” or any other comment of anticipation that highlights positive emotions connected to an upcoming situation. Just because you live together day in, day out doesn’t mean that some moments aren’t more enjoyable and special than others.
Find out what makes him feel special and do it: When people first meet each other, they are usually willing to do just about anything to make their significant other feel awesome. Bring that back! Put the effort out there, and again, and then wait for the response in time. If things have been stale for a while, it’s going to take time to shift the relationship energy.
Prioritise your man and your marriage: People who are in love have given each other a top notch position in their lives. Your husband shouldn’t come after your children, friends or social calendar so that all he ever gets is your emotional leftovers. You can easily do this by scheduling in time that’s just for the two of you to talk and catch up. Children as young as three can learn and understand what it means to have time for just Mummy and Daddy to talk.
Plan new adventures together: One way to see your husband in a new light is to go on new adventures together. Do things that are challenging for the both of you where you both have to get out of your comfort zones a little bit!
“But what about him! What about my husband being vulnerable, or opening up, or trying to make effort for me? It takes two to tango!” is a common embittered response.
It sure does take two. But as the old saying goes, it only takes one to get things started.
Even in a dance, if we stick with the metaphor, one person invites the other to dance, and the partner agrees to join in. There is always one person who has to take that first step and take the lead.
Why not you?
The falling in love concept equally follows this model.
One person makes a decision that they want to get to know someone else. A man inquires about a woman to see if she is available for marriage. A woman eyes someone at a family gathering, and then asks about him through her parents. It’s always one person who starts that vulnerability process.
The “poor me” mentality will not only prevent feelings of falling in love, but will also destroy the possibility that you will ever experience those feelings again.
The one thing that the falling in love phase in the beginning of a relationship does do is cover flaws.
In the beginning, you are not aware of the other’s faults, and if you see them, you tend to ignore them since the peak of emotions is so high. Many years into marriage, your spouse knows your biggest flaws, and you know his. This is even more of a reason to enjoy vulnerability, because you don’t have to pretend to be someone you aren’t.
You just have to keep revealing the person you are becoming every day and look forward to embracing who your husband is becoming as the years pass by.
There is so much to work with every day that is new, if you simply looked explored, and remained forever curious about him and yourself.