Several years ago, one of my clients began the session by declaring, “I’ve had an epiphany!” I responded, “Great! What was it?” She replied, “Relationships aren’t natural.” Then we both burst out laughing.
Thank two of the biggest relationship myths around if you agree with my client’s misguided thinking.
Love is all you need.
Love is unconditional.
Wrong and wrong. If love was all that was necessary for a marriage to survive, the divorce rate for first marriages wouldn’t be close to fifty percent. Second, the only place love may be unconditional is parent to child, and I’m not even sure about that. Between partners, you better believe it’s conditional if you don’t want your relationship to end. How you feel about your partner is a direct result of how you feel your partner treats you.
Think about it. You may still have loving feelings for some of your ex’s, but probably not all of them. Did you really never love them, or did something happen that ended that love? My guess is that your love either was actively killed by poor behavior, or it died of neglect.
This is what I believe lies at the heart of the statement, “I love my partner, I’m just not in love with them anymore.” (A line I hate almost as much as “You complete me”.) Left alone long enough, even that “love” you feel will eventually fade away.
For every couple who comes to my office feeling like roommates or, worse, strangers, I believe there are thousands more suffering in silence. My solution is, “Wake up! Take your relationship off autopilot before it crashes and burns.”
It isn’t that you’ve “just become two different people”. You always were. What’s different is that you’ve stopped embracing your similarities. No two people are completely aligned in their likes and dislikes (not even identical twins.)
Like most couples, you and your partner probably never filed a flight plan for your marriage. Since you never had a specific route to follow, you were unaware when you drifted off course. You drifted through life without a rudder and let the whim of time take control.
It’s not too late to turn things around and get back on track. By engaging in these 4 steps, you can take the controls of your relationship and steer it to great heights.
When I ask couples what they do together I often hear, “not much because there’s no time.” Of course, there is. You spent a lot of time together when you were first together and there was only 24 hours in a day then. Now, you both are just choosing to do something else in that time. Try as I might, I can’t think of anything that thrives on neglect. This includes your relationship. If you aren’t spending quality time together on a regular basis, your marriage will suffer. Make time to play, laugh, share, and enjoy each other’s company daily.
Most couples are great at what I call information exchange. These are the short bursts of conversation throughout the day that deal with the facts of life: what’s for dinner, what the doctor said, what time the parent-teacher conference is, etc. There is little that is deep or intimate about this type of communication. Discussions about hopes, dreams, fears, goals, plans for the future are what lead to a sense of connection and belonging. These conversations require at least 30 minutes with both of you being present and involved.
Be intentional in your interactions with your partner. Create shared experiences, whether it’s having lunch, going for a walk, exploring a new part of town, repeating your first date, or anything else you can make personal and special. Shut off the electronics, get a babysitter, ignore the laundry, whatever is necessary to put the focus back on each other.
Hug, kiss, touch, make love. Sex is an important part of marriage for many people. Unfortunately, couples rarely have the same level of desire, so it’s easy for a couple to get off track. Sex isn’t just about physical enjoyment, though it often is that. Being physically intimate is a way to build emotional closeness, especially for men. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, is released at orgasm. Not all touch should be sexual, but some definitely should. How much is up to the two of you. Shake things up-different times, places, activities. Novelty catches the attention and creates excitement. Excitement is good for your marriage.
How has your marriage gotten stale? What did you used to do that you really miss? How can you bring that back to the relationship?
Other Posts You Might Like:
- How to Affair Proof Your Marriage
- Buy-In to Your Marriage to Keep Love Alive
- Keys to Your Happily Ever After Marriage: Be Physically and Emotionally Intimate
Learn more about Lesli’s book and how you can love more and work less in your marriage.