Has your romantic relationship become stale and routine? Does it feel like you have a friendly (or not so friendly) roommate? Use a few of the tips below to spark things up again.
Some typical signs that things have gone flat: a lack of passion and a feeling of boredom, feeling lonely inside your marriage, no sense of communication (nothing to talk about) or connection, and growing disagreements that you don’t bother to talk about.
Stop ignoring this slow disintegration and take some effort to work through these common problems. We kid ourselves that things will just get better over time while nothing changes. They won’t; you need to take some action.
Here are some tips to breathe some life back into your relationship.
Make time for yourself
The first one sounds counterintuitive, but it is not.
When you began dating, you were two distinct people with separate interests and personalities. We often try to “become one” and tend to lose ourselves in relationship. You are still two separate individuals and it is important to spend time away from each other working on hobbies, going to an event with a friend, or participating in a group that you find interesting. This gives you something new to talk with your partner about when you rejoin. It is important to maintain your uniqueness. Remember that a stagnant pond grows algae, but a flowing river keeps the water fresh. Bring something new to the table to talk about.
Initiate displays of love
Do you know your partner’s love language? In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he says that we receive love by the following: Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time and Physical Touch. It is important to know the love language of your partner, but affection and sex are usually wanted by both parties to some degree.
Over time in a relationship we trade the butterflies for companionship, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stir the passion again or have a satisfying romantic life. By being purposeful in connecting affectionately you can keep the flames kindling. Hugs and kisses, hello and goodbye each day are an important start, but also plan times to have sex if you are too busy. Talk about what you want with one another! I can’t tell you how many times couples tell me that they don’t talk, they hint or think they should know. If you need help with this one, see a therapist.
Relate in a new way
Get out of the same routine in the evening and connect with each other in a meaningful way. Try to have a conversation that doesn’t include, work, bills, kids, chores, etc .Turn off the TV and play a game of cards. Or set a timer for 10 minutes and each of you answer this question while the other one listens. “What is one of your best memories of our time together?”
Rather than interrupting or launching right into your side, try to paraphrase what your partner said by feeding it back to them. Then check with them to see if you got it right. This is called active listening and many couples feel a lot more connected when they practice this.
Try this formula when you are talking to your partner. The listening partner really needs to just listen (active listening) and not get defensive. Look for understanding.
What I was thinking was…….
What I would like……..
An example might be:
When you came in last night, didn’t say hello and went straight to your office, I was thinking that you were mad at me or that I had done something wrong. I felt angry at first and then sort of worried about how our evening would go. Next time can you just say hi and let me know that you had to take that conference call right away.
Learn new ways to connect practice and gain new skills
If you’re looking to deepen the connection with your partner, it’s never too early or late to meet with a couples therapist. Don’t wait to come to couples counseling while long periods of conflict and disconnect have done hurt and damage. Rather, when things start to worsen or you have trouble communicating, couples therapy can be a great resource to get your back on track. Think of couple’s counseling as a way to learn new skills as you build your partnership and reduce the conflict. Just as you might want to improve your tennis serve by getting lessons we can learn new ways to have a good relationship through counseling. If you worry about the investment, contemplate that the average divorce can be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of stress and heartache.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Nancy Ryan