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January 15, 2009

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.

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Hi. My fiance and I have been together for 3 years. We have lived together for about half of that time. This year we were planning our wedding when I found some messages to another girl. We went through counseling and things got better but now I feel like we are back in a ruthless which is what happened before. We don't communicate like we used to and we never have sex. He wants to all the time but I just have no desire. I am older than him but I just don't know if it's me getting older (I'm 25) or if it's me hanging on to things that happened in the past or if it's because I just don't feel like we're as close as we used to be. We can't go to counseling every week for the rest of our lives. How can we get things back to the way they used to be?

Ok so I'm a guy that been in a long term relationship. I did my girl wrong for 3 yrs. Now that im doing good and not doing the bad stuff she thinks I want the girls we drive by. She'll say do you like her butt? I'm trying to tell this girl I was a boy then but now I'm a man who wants the responsible to provide for her. I just don't know what to do ..... Help me please.


Dear Michael,
The bast you can do is show her you've changed. When she makes those comments, calmly look her in the eyes and tell her, "Please stop making those comments. I love you and I'm trying to prove to you that I've changed." If she keeps making the comments then let her know the comments are hurting the relationship. Ask her what you can do to help her stop. Be sure to be letting her know how much you care for her during the times when she's not making these comments and act trustworthy.
Hang in there-Lisa

I don't normally post relationship problems in the web but I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years and he left for a week and said he needed space. I missed him like crazy and he asked to come back. I said of course but now I feel really distant and he doesn't but I love him to death. I'm so confused!

Dear Judy: Keep in mind that the "spark" is often at it's brightest in the earliest stage of a relationship and naturally turns into something more subdued and comfortable as we get to know the person on a deeper level. Keeping your own interests and friends helps with keeping the spark alive as well. Remember to not focus all of your attention on your romantic relationship--be sure to keep your own interests and friends. Keeping a healthy sense of independence is vital for that spark.
Good luck!
Lisa

My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 months. I'm 14. sometimes I'll feel ignored because he's with is friends or whatever but I still love him a lot and want to stay with him. It's just...were losing spark and that's not good...these facts were very useful to me though and I'm going to try them.

I am 14 years old and ive been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about a little over 5 months. I know im still young but i love her. It is not a puppy kind of love either. I really do love her. For the first couple of months we have been great! We would always text each other and we always called and hung out. But in the middle of the summer I had signed up for summer school to get pe out of the way. I was there 5 days a week for 3 weeks. Since i was always worn out and tried and we barely hug out for those days. but we still comunicated via. cell. and since then we just have been seeing each other less and less and i dont know what the problem is. I always make time for us but she doesnt seem to have enough time. Either she is sleeping(she does a lot), with her friends, or she just says she cant hang. Im getting scared at the moment cause she has told her friend she might breakout with me soon. And she says she is feeling distant from me but i dont know why since i have time for her now and i want to be with her all the time.She says she loves me, and she wants this to work, but she is not sure if we can make it work. I dont want to break up with her but its getting to that point. Please Help! :(

Hey Lisa,
My boyfriend and I have been together for three months now but he told me he lost the spark. I went away for the summer for a month, an he told me he missed me so much that he couldn't get sleep and all but then one day he just stopped missing me. When we talk it's not like before. We run out of things to say to each other. He tells me he loves me and doesn't want to lose me but if this spark doesn't come back for a while we're over. I really love this boy and I don't wanna lose him at all. I'm 17 by the way and so is he. He told me when we kissed it wasn't like before and he doesn't know why he doesn't feel the way he used to about me but we both really so want it to work out. Help? :(

Lisa-I'm 19 and I've been with this guy 2 years. Things were hot but now we rarely have sex. I try but I cant force myself when I don't feel it. He's the opposite though. I love him but he lied to me in the past. I know he loves me though but as of late like I said very little sex and we argue like cats and dogs. I want to stay with him but I feel we have no spark now. It didn't help that my family hates his guts and my friends alienated me from our large group. What can I do please help????

Dear Fifi: I wonder what's going on behind the scenes? Does he treat you well? Why does your family hate him? Are you happy when you're in his presence? It sounds like there may be some unresolved issues between the two of you that is getting in the way with you trusting him and wanting to be intimate with him. I would start by talking about what's really bothering you with him and not just trying to silence your upset and "get" yourself to be able to be sexual. If you ignore the things you're not happy with, they will begin to add up and slowly you will resent him and the relationship.
Start with having an honest conversation and a serious assessment of the relationship beyond just you not feeling sexual towards him.

Warm Regards-Lisa

hey my names samantha im 14 years old and im very young to be in love but i am. I've been dating a guy for about 4 months and were deeply in love but we got in our first fight the other day and he admittted to me that he loves me still but he doesn't feel a spark and he feel distant from me. he has had his heart broken before he dated me where his girlfriend tore his heart out and cheated on him, lied to him, and hid things. hes afraid ill turn into her and hurt him which i wont because i know what its like to be heart broken. i dont know what to do to get the "spark" back. tonight he says he wants to take me to the movies just me and him. he says if he feels a spark he'll forget everything that happened and we will stay together but if he doesn't were over. what do i do? I'm only 14 I need help.

Dear Samantha: My first thought is you need to know that you deserve to have a boyfriend who can handle a disagreement without wanting to leave the relationship. Arguments happen in all relationships and if he can't stay in it because of a disagreement then you may want to think if you want that type of relationship. You also deserve to be with someone who likes you for you and not the "spark". The "spark" always dies down in relationships--that's why we call the start of relationships the "honeymoon period"--because at some point the honeymoon is over and real life disagreements set in. My suggestion is that you NOT try to convince him to stay with you. Give him space, spend time with your friends and don't rely on him to make you happy. You're 14 so remember to not center your life around a romantic relationship--have it add to your life not be your life.
Hang in there-Lisa

Hi Lisa

My name is john and im having a problem with my girlfriend she tells me she feels like she has lost the spark in our relationship. We have been dating for 8 months now and for 2 months in the summer she went away for her school to Europe and while she was away my friends put a stupid idea in my head that she might be cheating on me and I attacked her on it while she was away but i apologized to her for it. Now that she is back she says she doesnt feel the same way about me anymore. I asked her if it was me accusing her of cheating on me and if she is mad but she said it was a combination of her being away for so long and me accusing her of that but she is not mad at me. I asked her if she wanted to break up she said no she wants to try to work things out. We only get to see each other once a week because she has a lot of school work so we go out one time on the weekend for 5-8 hrs and then the next day she goes our with her friends that she doesnt see so she only goes out 2 times a week because of her school. Ive tried to get to see her more like offering to go during her breaks from classes to take her out to eat she says she cant she needs to study and she wont take me out with her friends because its girl talk and it would be strange but ive never met her friends only 2 of them and she wont introduce me to anymore because there never free. The texts we send each other are cold. I say I miss you and she sends hearts and kisses I've asked her if she misses me and sometimes she says a little or she isn't sure because of stress from school with 24 credits she is taking. I asked her again yesterday if she wanted to break up and if the last time when she said no was it because she doesnt want to hurt me or if it was because she cared about me. She said she cared so I offered for us to go on a break. She said for how long and that she doesn't feel it will help it will only push us farther away so we didn't go on a break. She said she still has fun with me and I make her happy. She says she does care about me and she just wants us to continue and see how it goes and I agreed. I text and call but she keeps ending the conversations short because she needs to finish her hw she says she wants to try and make this work but I don't know what to do anymore. I really care about her but most of the time it feels hopeless and other times I feel like there is hope and it will work out but all these mixed signals are hitting me and I sometimes start thinking of the worst.

Dear John: Even though she says she cares about you and wants to see how things go, you also have to think about what you want. Are you getting enough to keep things as they are? It doesn't sound like you are feeling good about how the relationship is going. What do you want to do? My suggestion is that you get clear about what you want and need. Once you're clear, let her know what you need from this relationship in order for you to stay in it. It would be okay for you to take some time apart to help you decide what you want. You may risk becoming more distant, however, it sounds like you already feel distant anyway. Don't leave all the decisions up to other people. Take time to decide for yourself what you want and deserve--then ask for it. If she says no, it may be time to take a break.
Take Care-Lisa

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