Recently a woman revealed she was facing major surgery. Breast cancer as a matter of fact. Her husband was not the first, or second call she made. In fact she waited until the end of the day to give him the news. When I asked her the reason why, she said "she had always been the strong one in the relationship and she did not want to have to deal with his anticipated reaction when this situation was about her needing support." Clearly this couple had reached a place in their marriage where they were living together, but not necessarily loving each other. Sometimes when we marry we look at each other, see the faults as well as the strengths and we decide we can live with the faults because the positives compensate. Unfortunately, no one ever tells us that we change as we get older and those issues which we thought we could live with may become major problems or points of continuous conflict which grind love into the ground. We need to be more strategic in our marriages. The chemical attraction we feel for each other is not enough of a reason to be married. Shared values and beliefs, how we relate, and a complete emotional and mental commitment to each other are vital components. Obviously, you need the chemistry as well but not on its own. During marriage we need to continue to be strategic. By this I mean we need to love on purpose and make those habits which affect our behaviours thoughtful and loving. When I come home every night I have the following habits. I take my shoes off and go and find Pat where ever she is. I reach for her and hug her and look into her eyes and kiss her like we did when we were dating. The only exception is if she is on the tread mill, then I wait. The behaviour I am trying to impart with Pat is simple. I want her to know I love her and when I come home - it is to her. We are both busy and often have events on the go but for that couple of minutes she and I both connect and it is always hot. As my conversation continued with the woman I mentioned earlier - I asked if she wanted her marriage to continue and she said "yes." Then I asked if she wanted the relationship to be more and she said "yes." I asked if she was prepared to admit that she needed her husband and was prepared to help him feel needed. Always fiercely independent, she had to think about that, so I asked if she did not like her marriage as it was now and who had to change. Her response was quickly met with "you can only control your actions and reactions. You can not control anybody else." At that very moment, a light went on and she realized she was the one who had to change her behaviours. She acknowledged her own habits which led to those behaviours and we then discussed how to become more strategic and thoughtful, about loving on purpose. Loving on purpose is sharing the honest and open truth with your spouse. The good and the bad. They are your shelter in the storms of life.