>Dead or alive?

>I have been in love for 12 years now and there are days when I feel totally out-of-love. Those are days when I wonder why him and why me? They are the same days when I wonder why I live with this man. But most days are better. Most days I tell him I love him and that he’s the best. I tell him I can’t live without him. And he nods his agreement.

But being in love for twelve years isn’t easy. It’s bloody difficult, if I tell you the truth. How do you love a man (or a woman) if you know all the flaws in his mental, emotional and even physical make-up? (No, I’m not blinded by my love.) How do you want someone when you can have them every waking minute? How do you not get bored of living with the same person all these years? Where do you get new things everyday to talk and share with each other?

Falling in love is so much easier than staying in love. While the former is easy, the latter is not. And there’s a school of thought that asks if you have to work on being in love, what that could be worth. But there’s another school of thought that says love isn’t something that can sustain you; you have to sustain it.

Or perhaps, love is not the right word for it. It’s chemistry. Or spark. Or that special something that keeps two people going. Perhaps, love can exist without much effort, but the spark can fizzle out so easily. And all you couples out there reading this, testify for the rest that that spark is ever so important!

The Guy and I used to have a lot of it – the spark, that is – in the five years that we dated each other before we got married. Don’t ask me how I know it, but I do. And somehow, one fine day – the day after our wedding day, to be precise – that spark disappeared. It vanished without a warning! And two very-much-in-love people were left clueless about what to do with all the love that was stored within their hearts for each other. Without the spark, how do we ignite the passion? Of course, we learnt later that we weren’t alone. There were many like us among our friends who had been excited by the chase and fallen into complacency at having got the prize. And that’s when we learnt that the spark wasn’t self-sustaining; it needed to be kept alive, it needed to be worked on, needed to be stoked to create a warm fire that will sizzle and crackle once in a while! I guess there is some chemistry involved there – how to mix the right ingredients to produce the right results.

Don’t ask me what I do to keep the flame burning because honestly it doesn’t burn as brightly all the time as I would want it to after reading enough Mills & Boons. But I also know that Mills & Boons is no realistic benchmark! But tell me if you agree that there is no eternal spark that can light up a relationship. Tell me also if you agree that love is no different and that both need to be kept alive. And if it’s not too much to ask for, share with me how you do it…

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46 responses »

  1. >I think, the spark as you say, is a temporary, highly combustible substance. It shines bright, but lasts for a very little time. And yes that period is exhilarating, but also exhausting. But I believe in the comfort, support, trust, faith kind of love too, and that has its own charm too. How amazing is it to be able to bare your soul, and your deepest emotions to someone without any inhibitions or fear. Personally I loved and am still loving both the phases.:)

  2. >I agree completely with everything u have stated here. Even I feel out of love at times & the spark & intensity fluctuates like a crazy flckeing flame. I cherish the moments which do get that spark back…. sometimes we chat while both of us are at work & it's like getting transported back in time to when we were dating.It happened just yesterday & I felt all mushy again.

  3. >Ah! this sounds so familiar. Something…just about something happened the night we got married…the next morning was just not the same…as the dating years had been…Ive been wondering all this time…what was then…that is not now….We lived in together before marriage and that *sparky* was big and bright…but one marriage contract changed our lives …now its the TV and remote , office, driving, yelling at the cook, yelling at hubby who left the toilet seat up. But now and then the sparks appear,when he/I get a chocolate for each other on the way back, or stop by a shop and pick up a funny T shirt, or just sing along when *our* song is playing on radio…and then all is well again in our kingdom 🙂

  4. >@Goofy: That's such a lovely answer! Yes, there is something comforting about the laid back love but I want both – I'm greedy!@Monika, Ansh: Those moments are so precious now, aren't they?@IHM: Yes it is different in every relationship – with some people it may be as effortless as our love.@Maria:Exactly! The phenomenon is more pronounced in love marriages I think.@Hitchwriter: I'm sorry I didn't get that!

  5. >Totally agree with you on it. Things change so drastically once the knot is tied…. I guess each couple has its own way to keep the spark up… And I am pretty sure no one would be able to answer this question accurately..

  6. >You are right in your response above. This is common in love marriages. In arranged ones, there is comfort and routine that the partners aim for and once they get there, just maintain it. The routine that is. Spark..sigh!! 😀

  7. >Hi D,I don't know what to say other than so true… I have been reading you from months, but never commented before. I read your post on Father's day, it left me crying for a long time but refrained from commenting but this one today wants me to let you know that I think(not that it matters) you are an excellent writer. Thank you for this post.Keep writing.

  8. >@Rohini: I do know some people who have answered the question accurately, much to my suprise as well ;)@Anamika: I don't think it's fair to generalise that all couples in an arranged marriage look for comfort and that's it. I think that the whole idea of doing the forbidden (before marriage) is exciting and once a relationship is legally sanctioned, it's taken for granted.@B: It matters always to know that someone thinks you write well 🙂 Thank you!

  9. >good lord. I was just pondering on this issue sometime earlier in the day and here's a post.Well, I can't say more than that. Atleast until I got it all figured out.

  10. >D, Beautiful! Same thoughts goes through everyone's mind at some point. Husband and I met really young and married for 9 years now. I feel my love and understanding grows as time passes. Spark does need rekindling and people have different ways to rekindle it. One major thing is to keep the communication alive. When it stops..love going out of the window is not too far.

  11. >every single married couple or long term relationship partners will identify with this post D. Keeping the relationship alive is a constant cycle. Yes, there is no eternal spark that can light up a relationship. There are multiple sparks that constantly needs ignited….and it's not just about igniting the spark ….It's about building the flame…feeding that flame with wood to keep it burning, enjoying the warmth of the flame and sharing the joy from the light of that flame. No single spark works for everyone..there is no universal formula…the only thing universal is the 'need' and 'want' to keep it burning.I found this quote in my mailbox today and thought it was apt for this post :)…I love you, for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite so far enough to find ~Roy Croft

  12. >Very well written. I think marriage has added more purpose to my life. There is always something to look forward to. be it tiny things or bigger things. Even when you do your own things; you have a your own place to come back and share them with someone. The mills and boons romance is temporary IMO. Vanishes quite fast.

  13. >@J: Let me know when you do have it all figured out! :)@Solilo: You're so right – communications gaps can be the death of any relationship.@A: What you've described is a beautiful feeling. It's beautiful to just mull over how you've loved and been loved, isn't it?@B: Yes, there's nothing quite as heartwarming as returning home to someone you love 🙂

  14. >lovely post D… i met N about 6 yrs back and have been married for 9… most time I feel the love growing… yes the spark as u say might be there some day might not be the next… but then the its absence on some days doesn't bother us so much… I guess this is what is they say abt mature relation ;-)A : lovely quote that

  15. >I`m visiting after a long time,D(was off the internet for a while) and I`m stunned by the truth in this post,as always! You`re right. You`re bang on.Long term relationships need hard work. Marriage in particular needs a tremendous amount of effort from both sides to keep the spark alive. Its not easy,my friend. What is, is to get into a familiar zone,where anything goes. But that is precisely what needs to be avoided. Atleast at times. I consciously make an effort to keep the spark alive in my marriage – and that`s when I`ve been married for just under four years, most of which I have spent away. How I do it shall make a post :):)

  16. >Oh D, I totally feel you – the last year and half of marriage for me has opened my eyes in ways that I never thought I had to!! Evs and I had been together about 7 years before we got married and really it was almost right after the wedding day that this spark that we had so prided ourselves on….just fizzled. The love was there, but the passion had died. And we were only just 25!!!I've blogged about this so much over the last year and a bit, and I have to agree that spark takes work and communication is so so key.Weekends away, and being away from each other is so good for this I find 🙂

  17. >@Bluemist: I agree with you but I also think that the MB-type romance can make a relationship so much less boring!@Mahesh: In which case you do belong to the former school of thought.@Monika: Aren't we glad it's there sometimes ay least? @Piper:Welcome back. We will wait to read that post 🙂 And you've pinned the culprit down well – it is the comfort zone that steals away the spark.@Silvara: Marriage does come as a rude shock for couples who think they know each other well 🙂 But after the first year, things begin to fall in place.And yes, absence does make the heart grow a little fonder.

  18. >Interesting read…!!Coming from a person who is in a relation for last 12 years, i am no one to comment more…i have seen two or three relations where i feel they never had issues with the spark.. 🙂 i meant, its always alive.. atleast that is wht showing out..!!Maybe the re-ignite it every now and then…getting that succeed makes the relationship work i guess..!!

  19. >U hit the question (and the answer) spot on!U end up realizing that all the planning of living together forever, making his fav meals, havin kids etc ; all plans for the future are not so future anymore.. Its the present, its happening and its not a dream, its a RUT..I keep telling the DH, lets do something special tonite and he says sure, anything u want.. And almost always I have nothing special that I want done.. But back in the days we were dating, I would have come up with some majorly innovative things to keep the spark alive..I wish there was a pill to make it better.. But I console myself thinking, if I had to be miserable with someone for eternity, it definitely would be the DH 🙂

  20. >It's an interesting post D and as you usual you have put it beuatifully. I have my moments when I think about the missing 'spark' but I believe no relationship can always be on the same level. When we dated, we wee never together 24/7 and we craved for that and now that we are married we know we have the other person all by ourselves. Our priorities change coz we are now unified and spark takes a backseat.

  21. >Truly, D. 😦 there is a love that exists beneath all the bickering and arguments and issues and work pressures and kid rearing and stuff… but the passion has just gone out of the window.. Some days I find myself identifying fervently with those English couples who had separate bedrooms-height of indulgence!! theoretically i know pretty much what to do about the dulled sheen- lotsa books telling you.. but practically, I find it very difficult to make an effort. I would honestly much rather sleep!Maybe absence would make the passion kindle, but till that happens…:-(

  22. >Here is my answer – Love is, someone coming into the room with a broom and telling you "Go to the other room.. there is a lizard here. let me drive it out for u." – when he knows what she thinks of lizards and how the very sight of one within the house will send her screaming out like nothing else. I used to wonder.. then realised.. love changes its shape like water.. with time.. in time, it becomes "have u had ur medicine on time." or "There, i got home early and made ur favorite casserole" or "I stopped by at the daru shop and got u some wine" Yes, i am old and all that..

  23. >@Vinz: You know a lot of people look at us – The Guy and me – and say we look so much in love! Which is true. But that spark that couples feel between them is a different thing…@Dee: I knew you would know exactly what I'm saying after reading your blog :)@sscribbles: How sad that we can't live on love and fresh air and need some spark too ;)@JLT: Exactly! We're all great at theory but the practicals we suck at!@How do we know: Not old, just wise.

  24. >oh you are scaring me with the harsh realities! we do need to work on the spark constantly coz if u ignore it, a day will come when even a conscious effort will not be able to ignite it. i think when you share a few interests, do a lott of things together and make your friendship stronger, the spark will remain. And I know a couple here whos spark is burning right even 2 years into the marriage. how? they do 'it' every night!!! 🙂

  25. >@cynic in wonderland: Not bad at all except if you're greedy like me ;)@Saumya: I don't think the number of years before matter; it just happens!@Nisha: Nothing to be scared of, especially now that you've been warned 😉 And I'd rather "it" happened because of the spark than the spark happened because of "it"!

  26. >D,Once again a totally great post which most of us can relate to…I and my husband were the best buddies for 3 years, dated for next 2 and have been married for 3.Forbidden fruit is the sweetest – That explains why we felt the sparks every moment during the dating phase.It was secret, it was hidden …As you said, with marriage comes the complacency of winning a prizeIs the spark there in my marriage – Yes (though not the every moment types, but every day types)…How do we do it – 1 – Creating a culture – I don’t remember from where I got this.. Probably one of the Readers digest articles I read when I was a kid or probably it’s my own creationI have no ideaAnyways – I believe every couple has a unique signature (like finger print) – the couple as an entity will create its own characteristics..Some of the examples are – kissing goodbye in the mornings and welcome kisses in evening, good night kisses, ending every phone call with I love you..Having planned dinner dates, taking one week off for wedding anniversaries – celebrate birthdays and valentines days as “us time” – no phone/internet –Have something special and unique planned …Some are naturally embedded in the relationship; some evolve with time and some we have to create on our own.The one’s you create on your own with time become so embedded that it seems very normal to you (not forced) ..And in my opinion the ones we create should be done very early in the marriage else it will be too difficult to adopt.I don’t know whether I made any sense here.2 – Communication – as many articulated in the above comments, communication is VERY IMPORTANTThe moment you stop sharing jokes and talking about your day at work and friends and movies and sports and gossip – Slowly but surely spark and love walks out of the marriage(PS – Gossip is totally fun – not back biting or stuff – but generally talking about someone’s parenting style, or someone’s obsession with materials or anything )3 – Things change – Again as many said above, things do changeBefore “I miss you” and “ no occasion teddy bears” and “ I thought of you and bought flowers” made you mushyNow it is he bringing me my iron supplement every night with a glass of water, he downloading the songs of love aaj kal from the net and storing it in my mobile phone so that I can listen to them on my way to work only because when I walked out of the movie I said I loved the songs or I kept forgetting to buy my shampoo and conditioner the last 2 days on my way home and once I am home I am not in a mood to go out and buy them and on the 3rd day he doesn’t even call up and confirm coz he knows for sure that I would have Forgotten again and will be too lazy or tired to go out again and he remembers and buys them on his way from work … is what make me mushy …So in summary – sparks exist but what triggers the spark changes …and both ( or at least one ) have to work to keep the spark alive -ANAMIKA

  27. >Thought provoking post and comments. For me, its all about expectations in a relationship like marriage and managing it. Mine was an arranged marriage…so, in my case, it was only after marriage that we started getting to know each other, understanding each other and igniting the spark ! Actually, we were pleasantly surprised that we did have the spark since we didn't expect it. We didn't expect that we will be so much in love with each other. We are now in that safe comfort zone and quite happy and content with each other that somehow even if the spark fades during somedays, we don't notice it that much. Please don't get me wrong – I'm not saying only arranged marriages are good. I'm just saying it worked out for me very well.BTW, you do write very well..I find your style very rational. Will keep visiting this space more often.

  28. >D, so amazing that you can share your angst with complete strangers instead of talking it over with the guy! but then, misery always inspires creative writing – happy thoughts do not a writer make (unless you are emma brombeck!) and so cathartic to wallow in lost-love/spark/time scenario. like a quick rinse cycle for the soul.

  29. >@Anamika: Finally, someone who can list the details! 🙂 The effort one makes in a relationship is vital and goes a long way in helping keep each other happy. So is innovation!@Appu: I don't think it's about arranged or love marriage at all. But I understand your POV. The comfort zone is a wonderful place to be in, where you can be who you are with each other and still be in love. I know what what that feels like. As long as that's where you want to be, it's great! But sometimes, things can get a little boring if there aren't any pleasant surprises there.@ms: What a pity that your understanding of the English language is so limited! Had it not been, you could have read what is written in the post instead of making your own assumptions. And for that precise reason, any other explanation in response to your comment would be wasted. Also, you do realise your condescension is as much applicable to me as to everyone else who has left a comment on this post agreeing with me in varying degrees? Oh well, don't bother answering. Most likely you didn't understand the question!

  30. >"Falling in love is so much easier than staying in love"..its soo true. 5 yrs of dating and then 12 yrs of marriage..Hats of to u ma'am. Even though the flame doesnt burn as brightly, u still have a lot of stuff to share with us, because many of us these days dont reach even that stage. I sometimes think how wil i not get bored of my partner. I so much wonder how my parents are still so much in love with each other. I guess this is one secret that hasnt been passed from their generation to ours 😐

  31. >@Peenuts: No, no! Not 12 years of marriage – 12 years of being in love with The Guy! We dated for five years, were engaged for one and been married for alsmost six (since our wedding anniversary is in Dec). And the flame still burns very brightly, just not as much as a Mills & Boon would have me want 😉

  32. >Most of my married friends echo the same thoughts. I am neither married, nor in relationship, so cant really comment on a subject like this. But I do know that every relationship is hard work. I liked the way you have put across your thoughts and feelings. childwoman~

  33. >I know a lot of couples who have the same problems…..so clearly your post has touched a universal chord, which is also evident from the comments.Based on what I've read here, is it possible that the 'spark' is mainly a function of the 'novelty factor'?Quirky Indian

  34. >@Childwoman: For me at least, every relationship is a lot of hard work indeed!@Quirky Indian: That is what it is – once the novelty wears off, things begin to look jaded.

  35. >D, i think you share my imperfect understanding of the english language! maybe, if you read my comment later on in life (much, much later! you are so young), you would see the meaning. it was like brush off the dust and go on to play again. or i just had a really tough mom!

  36. >bang on. how do you o it d. come up with posts that are just so beautifuly written1well, for me, we've been together for 10 years and married for less than two. i find, not taking each other for granted helps. and do make an effort to do special things beyond the usual lying in bed and watching tv and eating dinner paying the bills. time off with other friends help too…when we have too much of each other all the time, we start snapping

  37. >@ ms: I believe you'll find it's Erma Bombeck you're talking of. And that if you read between the lines, her funny stories had a tinge of sadness to them :)D, I should start keeping an index or something of your entries to refer to because there is so much of what you say on various issues that could simply have been my words (or feelings) only, I coldn't quite have expressed them the same 🙂 Or … I read something you write and think 'Now THAT is how I would have wanted to think/act' :)Love really does need to be sustained. It's hard work … falling in love on the other hand, it's serendipitous. Doesn't need any work!It's harder when you've been with someone for so long because you've seen them change so much and those changes aren't always compatible with the person you are or the changes you go through. You keep thinking of what there was and whilst you appreciate what you have now, somehow the time that was unspoiled by wisdom seems far more alluring than the grown-up and mature version of love one usually ends up with. I guess reigniting romance is like dancing Tango. You have to have chemistry and you have to be able to match steps. But you also have to remember just when you need to draw away and keep distance and when to draw back. And I guess it also entails changing yourself a bit for the one you love. I mean, there's only so long that differences in personality can sustain a relationship. At some point you have to work out common ground and then hold on to it. A common ground that could simply be based on some activity. Okay I might've gone off on a tangent. My tuppence there, not of much use lekin! 🙂

  38. >@Dil Se: Where did your comment go? I didn't see it!@ms: Oh well, since you don't understand me and I don't understand you, why even bother coming here? And that's just a rhetorical question. Please don't answer.@chandni: Another vital point – it's important to give each other space. And we've agreed on that before on your blog.@DewdropDream: It's always nice to have people relate to what you're saying, so thank you :)And you didn't take off on a tangent at all! It's all very relevant to what we're talking about here. I like the Tango analogy – perfect!

  39. >i am one of them who would nod her head in agreement with How we we know. i guess it when you reach a point of relationship where you work for the spark (every now and then), but you are also verry happy to find your own comfort zone with love! so M keeping food ready for me or me buying him his fav movie is what will make us happy!beautiful post!cheers!

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