Attention couples! Let's talk love.
Are you struggling to connect with your partner? Has the spark faded? Feeling disengaged or complacent? Then you've come to the right place.
Our society has done a number on us in terms of our expectations for romance. Fairy tales are what play out in movies and things seem to "just work out" without much effort or energy by the characters. Love seems to be this euphoric wonderland. But what about reality? What about the struggles of life and the impact those have on a relationship? Mounting deadlines at school or work, raising children, family obligations- where does the romance fit in?
Like anything that is important or takes a priority in our life, it takes time and effort. We can't expect a plant to grow without sunlight, water and nourishing soil. The same goes for our relationships. Once the "honeymoon" period wears off in a relationship, the flaws that we used to consider cute and endearing become annoying and sometimes even off-putting. There's a fine line between lust and love. It gets blurred. And humans don't have linear emotions. We are complicated beings with a whole lot going on in those heads of ours.
So how do we foster our relationships? How do we regain what we feel we've lost? Is it possible to repair what we see as broken? The good news is that we can take both proactive and even retroactive measures to address these questions. Here are a few tips if you are in the beginning stages of a romantic relationship:
- Be honest- build the foundation of your relationship from a solid place.
- Be mindful of your expectations- gut check how you feel things are going. Something doesn't feel right? Listen and address. Have too high of expectations? You'll always be disappointed.
- Pace yourself- have you heard of the phrase "fools rush in?" It's easy to dive head-first into a relationship, confusing love with lust and moving things along at a speedy pace. Slow down. Enjoy moment to moment.
- Balance- don't give up your family and friends. Try to balance time spent with your significant other while also fostering your already existing relationships.
What about those of us who have been in a long-term relationship and things seem fizzled out? Let's touch on some ideas to reignite the spark:
- Know your partner- do you know your partner's hopes and dreams? Likes and dislikes? Get to know them again.
- Communicate- healthy communication is the key to "getting" your partner. Do you tend to blame or be defensive? Try empathy and active listening instead.
- Attune- join with your partner. Be present with him/her and be interested in what he/she is saying or doing.
- Date your partner- carve out time to spend with your partner. The kids have gone to bed? Perfect. Check-in with each other. How are things going in the relationship? Play a board game. Fold laundry together. Do something and connect!
As these are just a few thoughts on love and relationships, if you need a heavy duty tune-up, reach out to a couples therapist who can help you more successfully navigate your relationship. Sometimes we need a little outside help to lead us down the right path.
"The grass is greener where you water it."- Neil Barringham
Resources: The Gottman Institute, Emotionally Focused Therapy with Dr. Sue Johnson
Meghan Reitz, LCPC, NCC, has worked within the counseling profession for over 17 years. Her therapist experience includes providing individual, couples, family, group, and crisis counseling. She also speaks with companies and groups on mental health and wellness topics. Learn more about Meghan here.