Every relationship has its ups and downs, its rough periods. Even in the best of circumstances, there are difficult times. It is natural so don't beat yourself up if you're relationship doesn't seem like a perfect romance. The fact is that people change, circumstances change, emotions change...everything changes!
Over time, the natural ebb and flow of everyday life places incredible pressure on a relationship.
Almost unnoticed at first, you begin to think thoughts that had once been unthinkable. "I love him, but I'm not in love with him. Not anymore." "I'm not attracted to her, not like I was in the beginning." "Maybe if we separated for awhile..." The skies can darken in a hurry, and this can be a very scary time. Suddenly, the security of the relationship (one of the major advantages of long-term commitment) has vanished, and we're left with circular questions and a growing field of doubt.
Take heart, if you're in the midst of one of these dark times, then there is hope. Our thoughts and beliefs determine how we define our relationships, and the sunrise may be only a small shift away. If you and your partner survive these darkest of times, you may find your couple emerges with a stronger, more trusting relationship than you ever imagined possible. You've entered the next level of intimacy and commitment. The following tips may help you make it to your goal:
Clarify your expectations. Couples rarely take time to discuss how to handle the little things in life. What does romance mean to each of you? How will the finances be managed? How will you raise your children? What about religion? How do you feel and understand love? What hurts you? How will arguments be resolved? How will decisions be made? What do you need from your spouse, what does your spouse need from you? As tedious as it might sound, most of us probably never even verbalize these things for ourselves, much less our partners. So we go through our relationships, blindly feeling for the right way to love our significant other. After you take the time to answer these questions honestly, you'll have the beginnings of a map which, in time, will lead to a deeper intimacy, a more loving relationship, and better sex.
Fight fairly. Life and love is complex, and disagreements will come your way. Deal with them as they come, slowly rather than quickly. Leave the past in the past, and handle the current disagreement. Do NOT bring up the hurts and disappointments from the history of your relationship. Those are different matters, and if they still need to be resolved, it's best to bring them up on their own, not in the midst of a separate argument. Stay focused on the current issue and keeps the personal attacks to you. If you're arguing, it's more likely that the discussion will be civil and calm if you're close to one another and can reach out to make contact every so often. Studies show that physical touch will help keep the temperature down and your relationship intact.
Face the problems that you have. Avoiding, neglecting, and hiding from reality will change nothing. In fact, it will often complicate the problem. If you're having problems with your finances, admit it, bring it out in the open. Once it's on the table, it will be much less disturbing and more tangible so that you may better deal with it.
Honesty still is the best policy. Looking at you is probably the hardest part of the process because it's so easy to blame some external entity for our problems. Take a good look in the mirror. Check your behaviour-how you communicate, treat your spouse, or self-destructive tendencies-is undermining your relationship, taking responsibility for it is the first step to moving forward and rejuvenating your couple.
Be proactive. If you're waiting for your partner to take action before you begin, chances are you'll be waiting for a long time, and all the while, you're relationship will only spoil further. Take the initiative. Set the example and change your behaviours. Soon enough, your partner's behaviours will change in response.
Get to work rebuilding compatibility. Time unveils the differences between couples, especially when your relationship is in jeopardy. I know it can be tough when things look so grim, but seek out the common interests. Look for the good things, and, with enough time, they are sure to multiply. Back in the height of your relationship, what did you and your partner enjoy doing together? Going to the beach, the movies? Walking together by the roadside?
It's always a great exercise to take a stroll down memory lane. Think back to the first moments of your relationship. What was it that first attracted you to your partner? What made you fell in love with him or her? Think back to these moments and get inside of them. See what you saw, hear what you heard, and feel what you felt. It's possible to rekindle those feelings, to bring them into your troubled relationship.
Laugher is the best medicine for most serious situations so it's important that you keep your sense of humour. If your relationship is in trouble, being angry and brooding will only make things worse. Laugh out loud as if you were a kid, unconcerned and confident. Things can get better and the more optimistic you are the better.
Take a deep breath. I know that things look grim now, but trust that this is a natural part of the relationship cycle. Couples can make it through this moment of upheaval and emerge on the other side, a stronger, more confident partnership.