Somewhere along the way, we got the message that marriage is supposed to be easy and love will conquer all.
Unfortunately, if you go into marriage believing this, you will undoubtedly be disappointed and disillusioned. You may not be prepared for what it takes to have a relationship that can withstand the tough times.
Relationships are easy and effortless in the beginning. Fast forward 5, 10, 20 years and your marriage has fallen into a rut. In the busyness of life, you’ve stopped paying attention to your spouse. Over time, in the midst of full-time jobs, raising kids, and being stretched thin, the last thing to receive your attention is your relationship. You become distant and disconnected. You barely speak or even acknowledge one another, and when you do talk, it’s about what needs to get done, who needs to do what, and who needs to be where. Life feels tense and stressed. You’re short and irritable with each other. There’s no talking, no time, no connection.
Unfortunately, if left unattended your marriage will grow more distant with each passing day. The disconnected feeling between you becomes your new normal. Getting your relationship back to place where you feel that connection can feel like so much work. You wonder, “how did we get here.” You miss your partner, but you’re not sure how to bridge the distance between you. The day comes when you wake up, look at your partner sleeping next to you and think to yourself, “I don’t even know this person anymore.” You wonder how you drifted so far apart.
When you neglect your relationship, you will likely experience a breakdown in the ability to communicate, increased arguments that never get resolved, feeling lonely even when you’re with your partner, frequent misunderstandings that escalate, and mounting resentment. You might view your partner in a negative light and no longer see the good. You now have concerns about what the future holds for your relationship.
But the truth is, this is normal. Many married couples struggle to stay connected with each other. However, there are small things you can do every day that require little time and effort and that make it entirely possible to have a close, loving, connected relationship with your partner.
Strengthen Your Connection Today
When you start giving your marriage the attention it deserves, you can absolutely transform your relationship with your partner. By strengthening your connection with your partner, you can feel more supported by each other, you become better able to communicate and understand each other, and you work more as a team. This then makes parenting together easier, you stress less and have more fun, and you look forward to making time for each other.
Being stuck in a negative cycle with your partner can be very painful. But it doesn’t have to be this way. At Relationship Counseling of Walpole, I teach couples how to break free from these patterns and have a more satisfying marriage. The key to achieving a rock-solid relationship is to consistently do things every day to make a positive difference.
Take a look at these five tips that I use with my clients to help them make a difference in their marriage immediately.
- APPRECIATIONS/POSITIVE FOCUS
A simple way to start seeing results in your relationship is through a daily practice of appreciations. Each day you share with your partner one thing you appreciate about them or something they did that made your day easier. This helps to create positive feelings and helps you focus on what is going well instead of what is going wrong. You’ve likely heard the expression, “the energy flows where the focus goes.” What you focus on is what you see and what becomes your reality. Noticing and focusing on the positive things in your relationship has the ability to significantly change the way you view your relationship and how you think and feel about your partner.
- CARING BEHAVIORS
What are the things that make you feel loved by your partner and what are the things that you do that make your partner feel loved? If you’ve grown distant in your relationship, you might not know what those things are anymore. Work to reacquaint one another with those values. Decide on one caring behavior and commit to doing for each other. Maybe it’s offering a compliment, asking about your partner’s day, sending a sweet text message during the day. I’ve had a partner say that hearing a simple good morning from her partner made a huge difference in how she felt about their relationship. Whatever little thing that means something to you and you both can commit to.
Creating a strong relationship requires giving even when it’s not convenient. Naturally, we all want to feel special and important to our partners. To feel like we matter. If you’ve lost touch with your partner and you’re not sure what that is, ask your partner! What’s something I could do that would make a difference for you or that would make you feel loved and important?
- RITUALS OF CONNECTION
Couples often express that they are so busy it’s hard to find any time to connect. I get it; staying connected to your partner in the hectic pace of life can be challenging. I also know that no matter how busy life is there are always opportunities for connection. When you’re not in the habit of making your relationship a priority, your moments of connection are likely few and far between. Another way to reconnect with your partner is to create rituals of connection.
Establishing rituals creates shared meaning in your relationship and reinforces your bond as a couple. A perfect way to start this is to establish a ritual of departing and reuniting at the end of the day. These rituals may include a warm hug or quick kiss, asking about your partner’s day or sharing something about your day. When leaving in the morning, take a moment to find each other and say goodbye with a hug or a kiss. It’s simple acts like this that remind you to prioritize each other and your relationship. Some couples go on to create many more rituals including eating meals together, going to bed at the same time, or setting aside a set time to talk without any distractions. Incorporating this simple step into your daily routine is an effective way rebuild your bond.
- BE CURIOUS
Remember when you first got together and you wanted to know everything there was to know about your partner? You’d ask lots of questions and were interested in all the details. When couples have been together a long time partners start to assume they know everything there is to know about their partner. You stop asking questions, assuming you know how your partner will respond or what they are thinking and feeling. If you stop being curious, you stop asking questions. When you stop asking questions, you stop talking. And when you stop talking, you drift apart. Simply put, stop assuming and start asking. Curiosity creates connection and builds intimacy. It gives your partner the message, “you are important, you matter, I value you, I care.” When you start to be more curious and stop assuming, you still can learn a lot about your partner that you didn’t know.
- SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
The number one result couples share they want when they come for couples counseling is better communication. This is frequently followed with a well-rehearsed list of all the things their partner needs to change for the relationship to improve. The truth is, you get the best results when each person recognizes their contribution to the problems and works to create change. You can influence your partner, but you cannot change them. The only person you can change is yourself. If you really want to have a different relationship you have to shift your focus away from changing your partner.
Rather than complaining about the current state of your marriage, think about the kind of relationship you want to create in the future. Ask yourself if you’re being the kind of partner you aspire to be? If not, where are you getting stuck? Shifting your focus from your partner to yourself is not an easy shift, but it will lead you to sustainable relationship growth instead of temporary. Self-accountability is the key to lasting change.
If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you know how easy it can be to let things slip in your relationship. When you don’t make your relationship a priority over time, you fall into a rut. You feel disconnected, frustrated, and lonely wondering if it’s even possible to get back to what you had. I’m here to tell you it’s entirely possible to reconnect in your relationship even if you’ve fallen into a rut. With a little support from Relationship Counseling of Walpole, you can begin to make small changes and create new habits that strengthen and nurture your marriage.
Call 617-694-7015 to schedule a session today.