Trying To Become A Great Husband Is How You’re Killing Your Marriage

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It had been seven years since we last saw each other and we were beaming with excitement to bring each other up to speed with the unfoldings of our lives.

A lot had happened in Alex’s life in those seven years; She had birthed two amazing kids — a boy and a girl — had risen to an enviable position in the company she’d first joined as a mere intern. Unfortunately, she’d also experienced the harrowing demise of her father.

I saw her park her car and walk towards the cafe, in short, confident steps from the window where I was seated. She was a bit rounder now, a sign that she’d been in a good paddock. We exchanged bear hugs and ordered drinks, an espresso for her, and a chai latte for me.

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Time fell off as we took each other through the journey of our lives, leaning against the soft red couch where a prickly breeze lashed at us. Three hours later, we both realized we had to go back to our lives, so we said our goodbyes.

All had gone well in our meeting, but as I drove home in the silence of my thoughts, I couldn’t help but feel a degree of uneasiness gnawing at me, like an itch I couldn’t scratch. Halfway through my three-hour conversation with Alex, I’d caught a glimpse of a dullness, tucked away somewhere deep in her demeanor.

It bothered me because I hadn’t expected her to be anything but jovial and bubbly. After all, she always had a certain degree of aliveness to her that was infectious. Like a twinkling flashing light, Alex illuminated anyone around her.

I attempted to beam the light on why my friend now seemed unhappy even though everything in her life suggested she should have been radiating happiness and fulfillment. As I began to unthread our three-hour conversation with the hope that I could unearth the missing piece, I caught a whiff of something.

It stuck out to me that although Alex had spoken about her husband in the right way, she wasn’t particularly beaming with excitement at the mention of his name. Despite being married for five years, she didn’t talk about what an excellent lover he was choosing to only speak about the good husband and father that he was.

Jimmy was actively involved in his children’s lives; he picked and dropped them off at school; he cooked and cleaned. He ticked all the boxes of a good husband. She spoke about his roles as a father but nothing about what he did for a living. It was a topic she tiptoed around, trying to mask the stench of her dissatisfaction.

Although Alex was making enough money to afford her family a beautiful life, there was something in her that hinted at emotional fatigue and dashed expectations. Perhaps Alex had expected more when she got married to Jimmy five years ago.

When they first got together, they were both at a stage where they were laying the foundation of their careers. As luck would have it, Alex not only got a head start, but she also thrived, putting her notches high in the corporate latter, pretty fast.

As you can imagine, it made their lives easier; soon enough, they welcomed their two children, and Jimmy stepped up to his role as a loving father with religious devotion. Meanwhile, Alex’s star continued to rise. While this should have worked out well for the couple, in some way, it was also how Alex’s aliveness started to wane.

Although Jimmy being a good man, wanted the best for his family by devoting himself to his role as a father, abandoning his own path meant that he’d stopped becoming the man Alex was deeply in love with five years ago.

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Because he had stopped requiring more for himself, her admiration of him started to fizzle out. She was still his Bonnie, but he wasn’t her Clyde. Not anymore.

She couldn’t celebrate her professional wins without feeling short-changed because he’d long dropped the ball, and now she was running the race alone. She was feeling bored and trapped by the same marriage she’d been so excited to get in.

When Alex committed to sharing her life with Jimmy, she was attracted to the old Jimmy, who would think like a champion, run into battle, slay the dragons and forge his own path. The Jimmy who pursued a specific goal, and purpose.

Relationships like Alex and Jimmy’s are more common than we’d like to think. Many unfulfilled partners are continually scratching their heads, wondering if they made the right choice by choosing their partners.

The longer they stay in the marriage, the deeper they sink in the sand of regret. The more love wanes, the more they wonder how long it will be before the cookie crumbles through infidelity or divorce.

When it comes to relationships, a lack of effort isn’t what eventually pushes the ties off the cliff; it’s often the misdirected effort that brings the whole thing tumbling down.

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Inevitably, circumstances change after marriage. Kids, jobs, and the responsibilities attached to each of these cause many couples to fade away and lose the sizzling element they once had. The spark that gave them love in the first place.

Just like Alex, a woman wants a man who works hard, takes the lead, and has a purpose that sears identity. 

Merely being a husband and father isn’t enough.

She wants a man who never loses the fire in his belly that attracted her to him in the first place. She doesn’t want to lose him in the marital web’s responsibilities because the little girl in her still craves adventure. Bonnie, still craves her Clyde.

So, what’s the secret sauce for keeping your love spicy so that it doesn’t become just another bland and tasteless marriage?

It’s identifying that sweet spot between being a father (or mother) and maintaining the vibrancy and aliveness that attracted you to your lover in the first place. 

Because this is where you first conceived your love, you must continue nurturing it from that place.

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Leah Njoki is a writer who has been featured in Medium, Ladders, The Good Men Project, Towards Data Science, and more. Follow her website.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.