HAVE YOU LOST THAT SPARK? KEEPING RELATIONSHIPS ALIVE
Throughout the years I’ve worked with many couples where one of the partners has come in saying that s/he was no longer “in love”. In many of these couples, both partners reported that they loved each other very much however the relationship had some how turned into one of platonic friends rather than lovers.
Many of the individuals who had fallen out of love reported that they started to feel the shift years prior. Very few spoke about it however until now, several years later.
The truth is, relationships ebb and flow. Early in relationships there’s typically a “hot” period where there’s a lot of passion, physical attraction, and the desire to be with one another all the time. This is followed by a more realistic stage where each partner begins to truly know the other person—warts and all. Gradually couples begin to settle into some type of rhythm that typically includes periods of attraction, connection and intimacy, followed by other periods of more distance, acceptance (vs. attraction), and a possible neutrality. Some couples may also dip into periods of real struggle.
All of these phases however are normal; even the ones involving distance and struggle.
Where couples get themselves into trouble however, is when they begin to feel distant or neutral yet don’t speak about it. Feeling distant is a great red flag that tells you it’s time to pay attention. Instead, people try to ignore what they’re feeling, rationalize it, or hide it because they don’t want to hurt their partner. Ignoring it however, WILL hurt your partner…and you.
If you’re feeling distant from your partner, tell your partner. This means it’s likely that both of you have been taking your relationship for granted and letting it slip away. Be honest with your partner about what you’re feeling and ask if s/he is feeling the same. Take time to come up with a plan that will help both of you feel closer.
When you’re in this space, it’s time to give your relationship a little TLC. Make time for just you and your partner—even if that means after the kids are in bed. Hold hands on the couch. Brush against each other. Rub your partner’s shoulders. Cuddle in bed. Have long, fun talks. Do whatever you need to do in order to get back on track because the truth is: the quicker you catch it, the easier it is to fix.
If you’ve been feeling this way for years, take active steps yourself to be more affectionate, speak to your partner about it, and if nothing works, get into see a couples therapists or a relationship coach.
Every relationship ebbs and flows; the trick is paying attention not running from it.
CHALLENGE: If you’ve been feeling distant from your partner, talk to her/him. Come up with two or three ideas that you think would help you feel closer and do them. Also come up with two or three ideas you’d like your partner to do or you both can do as a couple. Implement them and see what happens.