Women marry men expecting them to change, and they don't. Men marry women expecting them not to change, and they do. How true is that?
It could just be my observance of a minute portion of the population, but it does appear that men marry the woman of their dreams based on the woman they got to know through courtship. Let's face it, we're all typically on our best behavior through that dating phase. Even if you live together, you know it's not a "done deal", and you continue to react in ways that you know present yourself in the best light. Then you get married.
After the honeymoon phase, the first year or so, our expectations become somewhat altered. Men quite reasonably expect their woman to be the same smart, sexy, funny person she was when they were dating and so they "settle in" for the long haul. They become relaxed, just knowing she will love him because she vowed to. No need to woo any more, the job is done. Now he focuses on being provider. That typically means work harder, longer, better. He notices she changes, especially if a child is born and her attention begins to become less focused on him. He doesn't care for this much. Some men even act up, pouting or retaliating, attempting to gain the attention back. Others just assume it's a phase and she will become her regular self again eventually and they do their best to lay low.
Women are emotional creatures. They crave emotion, and at times, a bit of drama. Every woman wants security, she wants to know she is loved unconditionally and will be cared for always. However, that does not mean once she marries that she expects to sit back and just assume these things are, and will always be. We are most definitely designed to switch the bulk of our attentions from our man to our child once it is born. This ensures the survival of the infant. I have heard many men preach that a woman should always put her husband before her children. However, it irks me to think that any person would reasonably expect this to mean that she should love him more, or make him a bigger priority than her children. Marriages are designed for to people to compliment each other, make up for each others differences, support each other and learn life-long lessons from. Should she make sure she remains a suitable helper for him? Sure. She should do her best to save some energy to give him attention at the end of each day? Absolutely. But what if the energy just isn't there? What if there isn't enough to go around? Does guilting her into feeling inadequate really solve the issue?
At this point, women expect men to change and step up to the plate. To help out with the family they've created, to listen to her stresses, to do chores without having to be asked like she must with the children on a daily basis. This is when men can shine - become her knight in shining armor. But what if their stresses and energies spent at work are all they can handle? What if they have nothing left at the end of the day to offer their wife and kids? Does guilting them into feeling inadequate really solve the issue? It is a difficult problem to solve.
Eventually, once the children get a little older, she begins to feel like a woman again. And she wants to be treated like one. She may even feel the need to be wooed, chased a little, pursued as though just because she birthed your children doesn't mean she's a sure thing from then on. She is a different person than she was when you first met, and you may need to get to know her again.
If there is distance in your relationships, try recalling your dating days. What were those things you did to try and impress each other? Ask her out on a date? Fix your hair how he likes it? Cuddle in bed and talk for a few hours? Surprise each other with little love notes? Yes, I am talking about putting romance back in your marriage. Guys, get her to giggle a little. Gals, get him to go gaga every now and then. Through the diapers, the breastfeeding, the scolding, the beautiful yet exhausting demands of children, she may not want to have to even think about the marriage. But someday she will come around to wanting to know she is still the woman of her man's dreams. And he will always want to know that she respects and desires him. And in all things, pray. Invite God to rule your marriage. It is amazing how the Creator will touch your hearts and repair the bridges if you only acknowledge that you need Him. It takes effort and time, but if you constantly reevaluate your relationship, making shifts and balances as necessary, you will find the rewards are there to last a lifetime through. And when the energy just isn't there...be kind to each other. There's a heap of happiness in just knowing that your life partner understands where you are at.
Note: This blog post is dedicated to my husband - my best friend, lover, and knight in shining armor. He amazes me with his patience and desire to understand his woman, and give her all her heart requires.