Think of your longest relationship: describe how your love has changed over time, did you go from the giddiness of infatuation, to mad passion, to deep respect, esteem, and friendship? Tell us about your love story.

There’s young love, lust-love, platonic love, enduring love, all kinds of love. I’ve experienced all of these, because they’re a part of the story of a marriage. If you expect that initial burning desire of love will keep retain its fire forever, it just doesn’t. Nevertheless, the it has to flare during years of marriage, because it part of the whole package of marital love. Physical desire, while it is a normal human function, is also an expression of love which, if lost, makes a marriage somehow incomplete.

Our marriage started with platonic love, then turned into a love on which we wanted to “be together” and build a marriage. I’m glad our relationship started out as friendship. When you’re friends, you’re not trying to impress each other, or hide personal characteristics, defects, or bad habits. You’re just friends, and you share your ideas, jokes, hurts, frustrations, and everyday events with one another. In return you get someone who advises you, commiserates with you, laughs with you, and is just generally there to act as a sounding board, or a give a physical or mental hug.

I kind of laugh when people who become disillusioned with their marriage say, “Well he, she’s just not the same person I married”. Duh.

Yes, people do change during marriage, perhaps a number of times. In our case, it’s because we were growing up. We got married early by today’s standards, 22. And boy, did we have a lot to learn about living in the real world. Supposedly university prepares you for the future, but when the future becomes the present it’s unfamiliar, scary and mundane. At first we both worked, shared the expenses, learned how to cook together, and how to exist on a small, even if joint income, in expensive London. I took a second part-time job to earn money for us to come back to the States and visit my family in Florida.

My English husband’s experience of Florida, interested him in working in the States, and when we moved here, not much changed — we both worked, spent time with friends, and did the normal things that have to be done.

After we had a baby, and I chose not to return to work, not surprisingly our relationship changed. For a long time I felt guilty about not earning money but I was doing a great job of caring for a baby, then 3 more. While having children made us both happy, it did change our life together. The focus shifted more to the children (especially by the mother), and less on each other. That’s probably pretty normal, but parents still need to feel like a couple in love sometimes, and remember this is the basis of their family life. I think I was a better mother than an attentive wife, especially when the kids were young.

Parenting can also bring out differences you didn’t know you had — because each were probably raised differently — we were. We had up and down times over the kids, the housekeeping, the yard work — all those things that have to be juggled in a family.

I think there were times we both have loved each other more and sometimes less, and sometimes one of us needed to be loved more, or needed more space. We’ve had a number of changes, challenges, and ups and downs. We’ve survived them all, and at this point I’m in a contentment phase. Love is now ingrained because we have so much invested in one another and growing family. With fewer distractions in semi-retired life we talk more about what we want as a couple and individually; that’s a change and it’s interesting. I think after all these years, we’re actually getting to know each other better, all over again.