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What Romance Is Like After 10 Years Of Marriage

What Romance Is Like After 10 Years Of Marriage

Falling in love can be a wonderful experience. When a relationship is new, it’s full of the kind of romance you see in movies, complete with flowers, love letters, and promises to be together forever. It isn’t always this way, though.

Maybe you’ve started to see a difference in your own relationship. Maybe the way you used to be together has changed and you’re wondering where the romance has gone. Don’t worry or stress, your relationship isn’t burning out or ending. In fact, it’s getting stronger. The romance is still there, it’s always there. The only thing that’s changed is the meaning. Romance changes the longer you’re in a relationship.

The Nature of Romance

Advice columnist and author Heather Havrilesky best explains the evolution of romance when she wrote about her own experience with romance after 10 years of marriage —  What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage. In a new relationship, you’re still looking for proof that the other person loves you and the other person is still trying to prove their love. This takes the form of classic romance when you want to shout from the rooftops, “I’m in love!” for all the world to hear.

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“After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof. What you have instead — and what I would argue is the most deeply romantic thing of all — is this palpable, reassuring sense that it’s okay to be a human being.”

After 10 years of marriage, or in any long-term relationship, romance is no longer about proving anything. You already know without a doubt that the other person loves you. Instead, romance becomes the confidence that you can be human and your partner will not abandon you.

Havrilesky talks about how she got sick one night with dysentery. On her way to the bathroom, she passed out and broke her ribs on the side of the bathtub. This moment, of course, led to a much larger mess in the bathroom. Her husband of 10 years came to her aid, took care of her, and took care of the not-so-pleasant situation. His actions in this stressful moment, one of caring and void of complaint, is her definition of romance.

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You see, in a long-term relationship, you forego the romance of morning text messages and constant kisses. These things are no longer necessary. You have something much more valuable. You have comfort, grace, and a love without judgment. You have the freedom to be who you are, to have bad days, and to make mistakes without your partner being angry with you or making you feel bad. True romance.

The Evolution of Romance

In her article, Havrilesky goes on to talk about how romance is “survival” and “survival is ugly”. The sad reality of a marriage or committed relationship is that one person will die before the other. The romance shared between partners guarantees that one person will be there for the end-of-life moment. “You are both mortal and you’re both surviving, together, and you’re in this to the very end.”

Your partner will sit beside you, hold your hand, and tell you they love you while signing papers, listening to doctors, and paying for treatment. Doesn’t sound romantic? After a lifetime together, it is the definition of romance.

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Romance is finding the person that you can get through life with. All of life. Not just the pretty parts like walking through the park, taking a Caribbean vacation, or enjoying dinners in nice restaurants. It is putting your heads together and taking on whatever life throws your way, be that illness, children, or unemployment. All of these mundane moments actually become exciting and romantic, strengthening your relationship and your love.

True Romance

Havrilesky further describes true romance as something that develops when,

“Two deluded, lazy people face a bewildering sea of filth and blood and gore together, but they make it through somehow, some way, without losing their minds completely.”

She says it is about realizing that neither of you are immortal, but it doesn’t matter because you’re in this life thing together until the very end. Her point with all of this, and what you should remember, is that marriage doesn’t lose its romance over the years. Don’t be tricked into believing that true romance is in questioning another person’s love for you or in worrying that you might lose that love.

True romance is never doubting the love between you, of laughing at life’s difficulties, and knowing that you two will survive together.

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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