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You love your spouse so much now that it seems impossible that love could change or grow as you grow old together. But our experts can guarantee changes will come. "Love does change over time, and that is OK," says Malibu-based marriage therapist Alisa Ruby Bash. "As we grow together and through the various stages of life, we can experience an even deeper type of love than we ever thought possible." Here are a few ways you can expect your love to change over the years.
You'll love more deeply.
Over time, says relationship expert and advice columnist April Masini, you will spot trends in your spouse's behavior — patterns of loyalty, work ethic, and honor — that will make you love him or her even more. "Seeing these characteristics, which show up over time, gives us the opportunity to love more deeply," she explains. "This is different than being in love. It's a mature love that has a heavy helping of respect involved." And while some couples may mourn the spontaneity and chemistry that comes naturally with new love, "this mature love is a natural progression to strong romantic relationships," she says. "Chemistry is easy, but mature love is something to be proud of because it's difficult to achieve."
You may put your love for them on the back burner.
When you said "I do," you may have imagined a lifetime of passionate love and perfect happiness. But, says Bash, "when we are in the trenches of child rearing, working, and balancing the busy aspects of our lives, it can be easy to lose our spark. We can overlook our spouses when we are burning the candle at both ends and overtired. We can get lazy and get lost in the day to day shuffle." You won't love them any less, says Bash, but the feeling of being in love may be less at the front of your mind.
You'll see you can withstand anything.
As in any relationship, you and your spouse will face adversity. "We go through struggles that create opportunities to see how well we work together and how we overcome adversity together," says Masini. "These types of built intimacies and bonds don't come about unless there is a challenge like a death, an illness, an accident, a job loss or bankruptcy." And while no one wants to face these unpleasant and even painful situations, your love will grow when you withstand them together and come out stronger for it. "It's easy to be upset by adversity and it often breaks couples apart," says Masini, "but when it doesn't, it strengthens them and their love for each other."
You'll appreciate one another more.
As time passes — as your children grow, and you ebb toward retirement — you'll have a new set of adventures ahead. And with that, says Masini, will come a new sense of appreciation for one another. "Some adventures, bucket list items and golden year retirements don't seem real in the first years of marriage," she explains. "There is an appreciation for life as it begins to draw to a close — and that is a time together when couples who have grown poignantly closer get to enjoy what they know and have lived."
Adds Bash, "having both free time and less responsibility — plus the added bonus of a lifetime of memories and the commitment to each other — can lead to the deepest phase of love. Couples that can take that extra time to explore and grow together can truly experience an unprecedented level of happiness."