I was meeting with a friend who was getting married in a couple of months. He and his fiancée have been dating for over four years and I was asking him about some of the possible issues he might envision coming up in the first year or so of his marriage. In the midst of his answer he stated, “the butterflies are dead” and continued to highlight the positive nature of that statement knowing expectations would be lower.
The blunt nature of his words caught my attention and I laughed out loud. We talked about it, and he obviously meant it tongue in cheek to some degree. He wasn’t saying that he didn’t love his fiancée, or that things were stale, he simply meant that their love had more depth than the “feeling” or “butterflies” because they knew each other better than that.
Butterflies are beautiful, seeing them flutter through the air in the piercing sunlight, riding the waves of wind through the sky can bring peace to the hearts of many. The thing with Butterflies though, is that, like everything else, they eventually die.
As unpleasant as it sounds, the same reality holds true in relationships. We’ve all felt those initial “butterflies” in our stomach in the early stages of our relationship. Those butterflies would lift us off of our feet with anticipation when we knew there was a chance of seeing that person again, wondering what our meeting might include.
But those butterflies don’t usually last, at least not in the everyday kind of way.
As much as my friend pointed out that their love went beyond those feelings, unfortunately far too many of us seem to think that the butterflies need to live forever.
The concept of “losing that loving feeling” or “Fallen out of love” continue to be the source of many peoples’ discontent and reason for looking elsewhere for a new relationship.
I will admit that there are times in my marriage where things don’t “feel” great– but we push through those feelings and fight for connection again.
We find that connection again and yes, the “feeling” of being in love comes back. It takes intention and time, like anything else, something we often forget when it comes to our relationships.
You see, the butterflies exist, they just change- there are moments when your breathe is still taken away, but the part of the butterflies that related to the unknown and nervousness shifts to a deep assurance and sense of safety– a safety where a new kind of adventure can take place, an adventure that you have together. For me it’s like the excitement I get when I have something new or exciting to share, like when I accomplish something or have finally saved up enough for that special something I wanted or needed. My eyes become bright and the world takes on new life again.
There is really no question that if we move on to a new relationship every time we think that the butterflies and loving feelings are gone, we will spend our lives jumping from one person to the next- why- because love is a choice, its action and time and friendship, patience and gentleness and selflessness.
My sense of deservedness that says I need to feel something, is the opposite of putting my wife first. Ironically, when I put her first I get the feeling back.
So, the butterflies are dead, and that’s ok– your relationship and your spouse are worth more than the “feelings” that can come and go.
Rest in peace butterflies, I’ve got something better. Something so much more real, strong and meaningful than a passing feeling- an intentional, deep and never-ending love and there is nothing better.
Oh, and you’re always welcome back as the bonus that you are, but you won’t define my relationship.
For the DFR podcast on the topic click here.