For the last several years, I have graced the doors of one of the busiest Wal-Marts on the East coast, at least once a week. Several months ago a new Wal-Mart opened down the street. This Wal-Mart was rumored to be built for many years and it finally came to fruition. Because I was used to going to the super busy Wal-Mart (the one our town shares with over twelve thousand residential college students) as an undergraduate student, I continued to shop there as a graduate student, and then later as a citizen of the town. Last Thursday, I was attending a Bible study that happened to be across the street from the new Wal-Mart, so I decided to go. Wow, what an experience! I pulled into a beautiful new parking lot with bold yellow lines and trees blowing in the wind. As I walked to the doors of the new building, I felt a strange sense of anticipation. The doors flew open and presented me with a new cart that was not rusted or squeaky. It glided with me throughout aisle after aisle. It smelled new. It was quiet! QUIET! The Wal-Mart at which I had consistently shopped over the last few years was never quiet! Even at midnight, the place was hopping. While I had only gone in to the new Wal-Mart to “check it out,” I found the excitement of this new experience overwhelming; thus, I decided to buy some Christmas gifts… and then some groceries. I just didn’t want to leave! As I strolled up to the new checkout, two ladies greeted me. One took the groceries from my cart and put them on the belt while the other rang me up. What service! In my wildest dreams I never knew I could have such a pleasant experience at a Wal-Mart. I pushed my flawless cart out to my car, and my Wal-Mart trip ended. I was calmer and happier when I left then I was when I arrived. That never happened at the previous Wal-Mart.
Yes, I suppose I may have been a bit dramatic about the review of my first trip to the new Wal-Mart; but, as I was walking out of the store, thinking that I had a renewed love of grocery shopping, I thought about how similar my Wal-Mart experience was to the newness of a relationship. Perhaps you just left a troubled relationship. Whenever you were with that person, you felt your nerves grinding like the squeal of an old, rusty shopping cart. Maybe you could not hear yourself think for the noise and clamor of constant fighting. It could be that you lost your love for strolling and enjoying each other because you were so busy trying to get through the craziness. It is likely that towards the end of the relationship, you may have begun avoiding each other because you always felt worse after being together than you did when you were alone. A person coming out of a negative relationship may have a wall up that won’t let new love in; or, the opposite could be true where the person could be on the rebound for a new, “perfect” relationship.
New relationships almost always seem perfect. He is washing his clothes, combing his hair perfectly, breaking out the expensive cologne, and washing his car before every date. She is spending hours in front of the mirror, picking out the perfect outfits, repeating lines to herself in the bathroom mirror, and calling her girlfriends to talk endlessly about how perfect he is and how ridiculous her last boyfriend was in comparison. The future is looking bright for each of them! There are no flaws and no rust spots have had time to develop on their “relational cart.” Together, they glide through each day thinking that it will always be this wonderful. It will never change. This is the man, or woman, he or she is going to be with forever… that you are going to be with forever.
There is a great deal of fun and energy involved in a new relationship – and that is a good thing; however, it is dangerous to get so caught up in the newness of things that you fail to plan for the days ahead when life together won’t feel so new. After I go to the new Wal-Mart a few times, I may stumble upon a squeaky cart. It may not be as quiet and pleasant as I first remembered and it will surely not always smell as good as it did the first time; yet, that does not mean that I should then go in search of a newer, better Wal-Mart.
So many young, and sometimes older, couples are devastated when the new feeling wears off. Because he doesn’t spend as much time sweet talking her, she may feel that he doesn’t love her anymore. Because she does not opt to spend every evening with him, he may feel that she is losing interest. Listen to me: prepare for the days to come! Relationships are fragile. It is not enough to blindly enjoy each other now and not plan on how to make the relationship last. What are you doing for her now? Write it down if you have to, but plan to keep doing it even after the freshness has worn off. How are you showing him respect now? Remember it! Keep doing it, even after you learn and experience his weaknesses.
Just because something is new does not mean it is better. If time and energy is placed into keeping a relationship running smoothly, age will not be a factor. However, if too much focus is placed on the beginning of a relationship and maintaining those “falling in love” feelings, you will find yourself beginning many new relationships just to get back that “new relationship” feeling – which is as fleeting as the “new car smell” (it lasts for a few weeks and then is gone forever). Instead, focus on the realities of your present relationship and plan for the future of your relationship so that you will enjoy each other’s presence for years to come.