Happily Ever After

Love Is All You Need

   People often ask me how I got so lucky to have found not one, but two perfect husbands. (No, I'm not a bigamist. One of my husbands is in heaven now, probably chasing after some angel half his age.) Well, first of all, I tell them that they [my husbands] weren't perfect when I found them. (Lots of training involved.) And secondly, I tell them that happy marriages are not a matter of luck, but a matter of love.
   Over a 20-year successful marriage and now in the fourth year of my second deeply satisfying marriage, I have discovered that nothing else matters but love. It is the answer to every problem, no matter how big or small. It is the key to surviving every crisis. It is the essential ingredient that makes the difference in happily ever after or miserable ever since. The trick is to constantly create and re-create it. If you can grasp this one concept, you can have the marriage of your dreams. Here's what you have to do: Stop analyzing all that is wrong and focus on the one thing that makes everything right: LOVE. Easier said than done? Not really.
   Remember how you felt about your mate when you first met? You adored him. He could do no wrong. You couldn't wait to hear his voice. You could talk for hours or just listen to each other breathe. Maybe you drove by his house just to see if the lights were on. You laughed at his jokes, held hands and made out on the sofa. You looked for excuses to be near him. When apart, you exchanged phone calls, cards, letters, e-mails or text messages. He was always on your mind. Falling in love was so easy.
   But falling out of love is even easier. I know. It's the way he splashes the bathroom mirror when he shaves; it's dragon breath after he's had hot wings for lunch; it's the annoying sound he makes when flossing his teeth, the joke you have heard one time too many, and that irritating way he gets all mushy when he's had too much to drink. It's a cumulative process-a series of little annoyances you didn't notice in the beginning. Why? Because you were in love.
   The secret to a happy marriage is to stay in love, and that is where you must make a choice. Are you as happy today as you were the day you said, "I do"? If not, what changed?
   I have a theory. I don't believe that people change. Circumstances change, looks change, habits and hobbies change. But what's inside - the core of a person-doesn't change. According to *Mort Fertel, author of Marriage Fitness, "Nothing really changes except love. But love changes your experience of everything."
   Believe it or not, that guy who is sprawled across your sofa sucking down a beer and shouting at the television is the same guy you fell in love with. You may not recognize him, but inside beats the same amazing heart you vowed to love for better or worse. Maybe things seem a little worse from time to time. But it is not because he has changed. If anything has changed, it is the way you look at him. So you want him to be your Prince Charming again? You are going to have to see him as you once did-through the eyes of love. This is the choice you must make every day.
   Here's how it works for me. Every morning, when I wake up, I actively CHOOSE to love my husband. I choose to see him and his actions through the lens of love, trusting that he is trying his best as a person and as my partner. If I've been mad at him or if he is doing something that annoys me, I adjust my lens and refocus my thoughts on why I fell in love with him to begin with. If I'm REALLY mad or annoyed, this can be a challenge. (I have a backup list of his redeeming qualities on my computer in case my mind goes blank.) Seriously, this consciousness of thought on a daily basis serves to reinforce my love for him.
   And guess what? It all comes back to me- a mirror image of love. That's how it works. It's so simple. When you make the choice to love him, he has no choice but to reflect it back on you. Call it luck. I call it love. It's all you need.


   Have you fallen out of love? Do you find yourself taking your partner for granted? Maybe your marriage just needs a little boost to make it more exciting and fulfilling. If so, it's time to re-create the love. Stop trying to change your spouse, and change your view instead. Take a few minutes to daydream. Remember the early months and years of your relationship. Make a mental list of the traits that drew you to your husband. (If necessary, create a file on your hard drive.) Start each day by making a choice. Look through the eyes of love and you will begin to see a dramatic change in your marriage.
   *Mort Fertel is a world authority on the psychology of relationships with an international reputation for saving marriages. If your marriage is troubled, consider signing up for Mort's Marriage Fitness Tele-Bootcamp. For details or to register, go to: MortFertel.com/tele-boot-camp.asp.
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