How to Stay in Love 101 – Feed the Right Dog
Falling in love is the easiest thing in the world. Your hormones jump in and do what they’ve done for thousands of years. There is no real effort involved; mostly, you just enjoy the ride.
The work begins after that first wave passes you by. When passion has been put on pause and everyday distracts step all over everything. A relationship is a living breathing thing that changes with time. And like any other live organism it must be fed in order to survive.
People often talk about finding love. I want to talk about staying in it. So every once in a while I’ll throw a few suggestions your way. Here’s the first:
Remember to Feed the Right Dog
Pretend you have two dogs, one named Displeasure and the other Joy. They both live in your house and you and your spouse are in charge of feeding them. Displeasure, bitch that she is, barks a lot. She is easily annoyed and she snarls and growls and carries on the moment something does not go her way. If her food is late she starts up. If she doesn’t get to go outside when she wants the yapping begins. You have to throw her a bone to get her to stop.
Displeasure gets fed a lot.
Joy, on the other hand, is a quiet and content canine. Loves to be petted but doesn’t cause you any trouble if you don’t. She will sit quietly in the corner and await the attention she deserves, but she does not howl when it doesn’t come her way.
She often gets ignored.
Here’s the thing: you have to make a conscious effort to feed the quiet dog. Acknowledge all kindnesses. Thank your spouse for the everyday things that could easily go ignored. Whoever is paying the bills should feel like you respect the effort that it takes. If you enjoyed something your spouse said or did let her know. If he did something that anyone on the street would be impressed with, don’t let the fact that you have seen him do it before keep you from mentioning it again.
from Making Marriage Work p. 63