This article is for those who are in a permanent romantic
relationship. The question I will be addressing is:
you keep on loving your partner after unexpected change,
pain, or tragedy? Can you keep your love for each other on
fire even after Alzheimer’s, amputation, dementia,
depression, diabetes, heart problems, heart attack,
paralysis, postpartum depression, psychological disorder,
sexual dysfunction, stroke, loss of a job, etc.? Believe
it or not changes like a new career or big increase in
salary can also create a negative impact on the
It is imperative to understand that marriage is not just a
bed of roses. There are more things in the bed than
roses. What makes a rose plant special are the thorns or
prongs on the stem. You cannot hold the rose without
holding the stem. Here’s another truth. The dry petals
from a faded rose can be used to make a beautifully scented
potpourri that can fill a home with sweet-smelling aroma.
In other words, too many enter a romantic relationship not
realizing that things will change, even those things we may
not think about. Many are not aware that the rose petals
will fade. However, the new normal is to make a potpourri
from dried petals in marriage. The important principle is
that when we develop strong unconditional loving
relationships, we have a better chance of remaining in love
even when the petals have faded.
Remember, change will come. Are you ready? If you are
not ready, your relationship will be shaken to the core.
Some who have a serious heart attack or paralyses from the
waist down get terribly depressed because they think they
could never have sex again. They refuse to take the energy
to “redesign” the marriage.
Here’s a key point. If tragedy or major change happens
before compassion is activated, your marriage is in trouble.
If there is very little or no compassion, understanding,
openness, sharing, holding each other, loving, or cuddling,
then there is a greater chance that the unexpected will
strike you out. If there is lots of passion and no
compassion, there will be more pain in the relationship. In
other words, if there is lots of sex and very little love
making, connecting, sharing, and holding; when tragedy
strikes the pain will be greater. It will be harder to
adjust and create a new normal. Or one might not be
motivated to create a new normal because the hearts had
grown apart a long time before the tragedy.
Marriage couch, Mort Fertel, in his book “Marriage Fitness”
states “True love is not about compatibility; it’s about
making a core connection. The challenge is to see past the
externalities to the soul of the matter. This is where love
happens, and this is where a marriage is protected from
change.” He continues: “Connect at your cores, and you
can change careers, hairstyles, hobbies, interests, friends,
favorite restaurants, and fashion preferences. Through
all your changes, your love will last.” This
quotation by licensed counseling, Monte Drenner, really
touches the point when dealing with unexpected change or
tragedy in relationships: “It’s amazing that couples will
remodel their house, but not remodel their marriage. I
encourage people to find new interests, new hobbies, go to
new places and challenge old beliefs with new ideas."
If you lost your eye site, you can find new ways of “seeing”
your partner. If you have a leg amputated, you can still
make love. If you are paralyzed and cannot feel your
genitals, you can still have sex. Yes you can. Orgasm is in
the brain also. If you lost your sex drive, you can regain
it. If you really cannot have sex or feel when your partner
is holding you, you can still learn to enjoy each other and
deeply love. If your partner’s physical attributes change,
you will still have other strong components to help maintain
and sustain the marriage. Be determined to find them.
Do not let menopause (female) or andropause (male),
paralysis or heart attached destroy the love you once had
for each other. Here are a few things to do: Ask
questions--“What do you expect of me?” “How do you want me
you to love you now?” Do not make assumptions that your
partner is not interested anymore. Research on the topic.
Talk to experts. Have an open mind. Treat your spouse the
way you always did. Keeping loving through it.
Here is my appeal to all couples. Get connected now to your
partner in the fullness sense. Because, as stated earlier,
if tragedy strikes before compassion is activated, your
marriage is in trouble. If there is very little or no
compassion, understanding, openness, sharing, holding each
other, loving, or cuddling, then there is a greater chance
that the unexpected will strike you out. Creating
compassion now is your greatest way to reduce the pain when
change come. Believe me or not, change of some kind will
come. Are you ready?
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family
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