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Keep the romance alive for a successful marriage

Lighthouse column
By: Angela Ponivas Special to The News Messenger
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I have several friends in their 40s and 50s who are going through a divorce or are recently divorced. One of my friends stated, “We were busy raising our kids, working and somehow we lost our relationship with one another as husband and wife. We stopped communicating.” Keeping the romance alive is an important part of marriage. Although many of us think we want everything to be easy, the truth is everything in life, worth anything, requires maintenance. Your home, your car, your physical body, your friendships and your marriage require maintenance. Marriage is no exception to this rule. While we may live in the same house with one another, often times, couples are busy taking care of the day-to-day responsibilities. We are shopping for groceries, managing bills, washing clothes, cooking dinner, cutting grass, doing homework, working from home and the list goes on. All of this is absolutely necessary in life but so is the inconsequential, flirtatious nonsense that makes you delight in one another’s company. The long conversations that cause you to share, feel close and cause you to shut out the rest of the world and focus your attention on one another are essential to having a successful marriage and healthy children. Statistically, California is higher than the national average for divorce. One website states that California’s divorce rate is at 75 percent and women file for divorce 200 percent more often than men. Women need and desire connection to their spouse, and it is healthier for our children to see parents putting their marriage first and connecting to one another. This helps children to feel more secure and safe. Children of divorce suffer academically as a result of divorce. Robert Hugh, Ph.D., a professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, found that “children from divorce often perform worse academically, fall behind peers in terms of social skills and sometimes suffer from bouts of anxiety, depression and/or low self-esteem.” To add to the dilemma is the financial consequences of divorce. Many spouses end up in bankruptcy court due to divorce. Clearly, the downside of divorce is great and therefore, maintaining your marriage by taking time each week to connect is imperative. It is recommended that a couple set aside one date night per week. Dating, after marriage, brings you back to when you first started dating – the excitement and the butterflies. It brings the spark back. Recently, I heard a man say, “When you have a baby, you lose your wife.” This man clearly grieved that he and his wife no longer had the relationship they once did. Therefore, women are not the only relational ones who need to connect. Men need to connect with their wives, as well. They need “a friend and a partner.” Making time for fun, intimacy and sharing as a couple is good for your emotional health, your physical health, your financial health and your children’s health so please don’t become another California statistic. Seek to connect weekly with your partner. If you feel you need additional support in making your marriage successful, the Lighthouse offers relationship-enhancement classes that help couples identify priorities in life and help couples to communicate. If you are divorced and are feeling the aftermath, then Lighthouse can help with individual counseling, child counseling and resource help. We want you and your family to be as healthy and productive as you can possibly be. Just as you go to the doctor for a physical ailment, please don’t hesitate to come to us for emotional support and resource help. We exist to support you in times of need. Angela Ponivas is the Lighthouse Counseling & Family Resource Center’s executive director. Her phone is 645-3300 and Web site is lighthousefrc.com. The Lighthouse is at 427 A Street, Suite 400.