“I am not in love anymore.” I have heard it many times while in session with clients. Heck, I have even said it myself. That not being “In Love” feeling, What is it? What is love? In relationships, being in love means different things to different people. I know for me it does. Falling out of love means that there is no emotional connection, no intimacy. A house can not stand on a poor foundation.
The Gottman’s, a leading couple in the field of couples counseling, created the phenomenon for a healthy foundation for a functional relationship. It’s called a sound relationship. Well, the sides of a house are symbolic of commitment and trust. Those are the walls that hold the house together. And if those two components are weak, we can look in the middle, which holds different areas of the relationship together. The first one is Love Maps. Simply put, this is the falling-in-love area, and this is the area that needs to be maintained the most.
Question: Do you remember how you fell in Love with your partner? What is your love story? Before the kids, before the mortgage and the hustle of just keeping up with day to day life; WHAT IS YOUR LOVE STORY? What did you do together? Where did you go? What did you talk about? How much time did you spend together?
Reactivating your love story is essential to a thriving relationship. Stop making it feel like a task, and start enjoying each other’s company again. Losing that falling out of love feeling does not mean a relationship has to end. It just means it needs to be reactivated. Redefine what you want and need. It means it’s time for the emotional communication to be awakened. Well, what is that? You may ask. That is reactivating or actually learning how to talk, discuss and share with one another like your partner is a close friend whom you can tell anything, and truly can have fun with them. That person, who doesn’t judge, yet listens and seeks to understand, and not just react to what’s being said. When some people hear emotions, they tend to cringe and grind their teeth. There eyes may bulge. I just laugh.
Let’s make it simple. As human beings, We all have emotions. Feeling angry is an emotion. Feeling tired is an emotion.
Emotions are a common thread that bind us regardless of our differences. Let’s break down the word, Emotion- E-Motion. The prefix E means out of and Motion is the action of movement. Therefore, your emotions are come out of a moving process, and in maintaining a healthy, loving, functional, joyful relationship. The movement of the relationship is to continue to spiral up out of a lighter movement.
Here is an Activation 5 step challenge for you to consider:
STEP 1: Be receptive
It takes being open to the process of receiving a new experience that may not be the norm for you. Receive the new experience by doing something different together or something that you have not done in a while. Even if at first, you are hesitant because the
“In Love” feeling isn’t there. Like the Nike shoe company’s motto goes, “Just Do It.” That’s the importance of activating the movement of the relationship to shift. There has to be an action component. That is the motion of E-motion.
Step 2: Stop putting on a fake face
This means start learning to be honest with how you feel, and your partner be honest with you. I always ask my clients how are you doing and how do you feel? Two different states of being; How you are doing is very superficial, while taking the time to check in with yourself and your partner causes you to take the mask off. Good is not a feeling. Fine is not a feeling. Begin to resonate with the sensations, the movement in your body. The feeling is tired, excited, sad, happy, anxious, etc. Resonate with that feeling, and begin to explore emotions you have within you to understand yourself first, so you can communicate that to your partner; and your partner should listen by attempting to understand. Not react, not respond, not defend, yet be there.
STEP 3: Be ever present
I know what it’s like to have so much on your mind that you are totally not in the moment with your partner. You are thinking about getting the kids ready for school. How you have to complete that project at work? What bills still need to be paid??? JUST STOP!
Pause, Slow Down, Breathe! When activating the emotional communication with your partner. Be in the moment. This is the time to be selfless. Put your own agenda aside and take the time to understand your partner’s world without giving advice or judging unless your partner asks for advice. BE THERE!
Make an attempt to place yourself in your partner’s shoes and see how you would feel, or if you can not relate. Ask. Avoid the Why question. It does not invite flexible and fluid conversation. Ask, “How come?” What makes you feel that way? What’s going on?” Be curious and show concern in demonstrating that you want to know what is going on in the world of your partner. Go into their experience.
STEP 4: Communicate with the affirmative “I AM…” statement
“I AM” statements take ownership for your own experience, and it shifts the focus to what you need and want. No, emotional communication is not stating, “I need you to…. Then, the communication can become blocked because the focus is shifted to blame instead of personal responsibility of what “I” need and want instead of what your partner is doing wrong. A statement starting with “You” can lead to feelings of anger, defensiveness and alienation.
STEP 5: Practice Patience
Falling out of love did not happen overnight. It builds over time. That is where the benefits of couples counseling come into the picture to help process each partner’s perspective to understand where the breakdown occurred, what factors that are missing from the relationship that may contribute to it, and how to bring the relationship back or begin to create a state of harmony within each partner. Remember, it is a process. Make the conscious decision that you want the relationship, and you are willing to do what it takes to have a healthy, loving relationship. It is possible to reactivate the love factor.
You can do it! Trust the process.