Maintaining a passionate, committed relationship is an extremely difficult challenge that most of us underestimate. If you look at it realistically, you should really appreciate two things. First, you should realize that you’re really trying to do something that isn’t “normal.” Although this statement sounds strange, consider that nearly one out of two marriages today will end in divorce. This means that nearly half of us are either getting divorced or are on the edge of a divorce, hiding our quiet frustration and discomfort from view. That’s normal. What you should strive for is to have a better than normal relationship — a truly extraordinary relationship. If you merely want a normal relationship, why are you setting your sights so low? Try to appreciate that what you really want to have is a superior relationship that will demand extraordinary skill to accomplish.
The second thing you should realize is that you’re expecting more emotional perks than previous generations have expected. For most of history, marriages have been more survival oriented. Even through the eighteenth century, emotional fulfillment in a marriage was not paramount. If none of your children died and you got your crops in before winter, that was considered a pretty good year! You focused on helping each other survive. You went to church, feared God, and expected the big pay off after you died. You didn’t have the luxury of worrying about spiritual fulfillment from your marriage. This latter expectation is a recent historical development. Having much higher marital expectations can create additional obstacles. If your relationship isn’t going well, you now feel more shame. You can develop a sense of failure that you haven’t been able to maintain an intoxicating in-love state and where there’s such shame, there’s always the temptation to blame.