Is routine controlling your relationship?
Have you hit a bit of a stale spot in your relationship?
Do you feel like your lacking connection and just going through the motions?
We all know the start of any relationship is the easiest and filled with the most excitement. You’re getting to know each other, you’ve got undeniable chemistry, sex is a dominating factor and you’re constantly planning dates and ways to spend time together. After a few months you figure out if it was just a fling or whether it’s going to be a long term relationship. If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ve got to be prepared to put in some work down the track.
I’ve heard years 2, 7, 11 and 20 of a relationship have a higher percentage of breakups than other years. I’m not sure where these stats come from, but I can see the reason behind them and I personally know relationships require work. Work from both parties. When most people hear the word ‘work’ they sigh and roll their eyes, but putting work into a relationship shouldn’t give you this response because it’s something you’re committed to and something that should enhance your life.
SO what ‘work’ am I talking about?
18 months to 2 years into a relationship (depending how quickly your relationship moves), the sexual activity has decreased a little and you have to develop a deeper connection, rather than surface level stuff. You start talking about what your future looks like together, marriage, kids, travel etc. You also have to navigate each other’s habits and ‘pet peeves’.
From here on, especially if you’re living together, it’s very easy to just fall into routine, and I’ve certainly been through this. Wake up, go to work, go to the gym, come home, eat dinner, go to bed and do it all over again. At some stage, we forget to make our relationships a priority, we stop having regular dates and trying new things together because we see each other every day.
So… if you feel like this is your relationship and you’re at a bit of a standstill… Here's 5 tips to help reignite the spark that's still simmering away, just a little less brightly.
HAVE A CONVERSATION
Obvious isn’t it?! NO, unfortunately not. Often having a deep, meaningful, open conversation with your partner can be difficult. You’re nervous about how your partner will respond, you don’t want to say anything that will upset them and you certainly don’t want to break up. But you need to say something in order for things to change. Here are some strategies to make ‘the talk’ a little bit easier for both of you:
Organise a time that suits both of you to have a chat. Make sure there will be no distractions and no time restrictions. By doing this, you are both engaged, prepared, don’t have to end the conversation suddenly and you aren’t bombarding them with all this deep shit out of nowhere.
Listen to what your partner has to say and be open to what they say. This chat is a time for you to COMMUNICATE with each other so you can get back on the same page. It’s not meant to be a one way street for either party.
It’s essential that you can always be completely honest with your partner. If you can’t be honest with them because of how they might react, something needs to change.
Don’t go into the chat, guns blazing and have a go at them. Tell them what is lacking, or what you need from the relationship and offer solutions to fix the problem. No one likes to feel like they’re being targeted, and by offering a solution, it shows you’ve thought about it from both perspectives, not just your own.
Take ownership and admit to areas where you could have done things better as well. No one is perfect.
When you first start dating you constantly go out for dinner, movies, weekends away, whatever. Once you start living together, it’s easy for these to become less common or stop because you see each other every day. However sitting together on the couch, watching TV and looking at social media certainly doesn’t compare to a nice dinner, a bush walk or a weekend away.
Our (my partner and I) thing has always been the movies, but recently we’ve been trying to get outside, in nature, and do adventurous things. I really wanted to start incorporating more outdoor activities in my life because of how calming and healing nature can be. I’m most at home when I am outdoors and it’s even better if I can do it with my man, except when we get lost on a hike and start climbing up a mountain. Then tensions can get a bit high… haha.
The moral of the story, find something you both love doing, or just something different and do it together. Just the two of you!
I once read a story about a husband having an affair and was about to leave his wife. When he told her, she accepted the breakup but made him agree to pretend to be a couple for 60 days. He had to carry her down the stairs each morning, hug her in front of the children and eat breakfast together. Initially the husband hated it, but with each day, he rediscovered the spark and the love he had for his wife. All because he allowed himself to get close to her.
Whether true or fictitious this story has a strong message. Even if you are sexually active with your partner, but you feel distance between you, start implementing little things that you used to do – hold hands, rub their back, spoon when you go to bed, always hug when you see each other, and have a pash… for no reason… just because. That’s the biggest change people see in their relationships. When you first start dating you pash all the time, just because you want to. When you’re in a long term relationship, the only time you pash is when you’re going to have sex. Why?
Once in a committed relationship, sex can become increasingly emotional for women. What I mean is we want to have an emotional connection and feel good about intercourse, but if we aren’t feeling great about ourselves our libido tends to go walkabout. I went through a phase where I just wasn’t interested in sex and I felt so bad for my partner, because it had absolutely nothing to do with him, he was amazing, I was just in a really bad place and felt shit about myself. My psychologist told me to ‘just start’. Basically, start having sex and the passion and sex drive will return. So if you want to have more sex with your partner but ‘aren’t feeling it’… ‘Just start’.
Life and relationships should be fun. You should be able to have a laugh with, and at each other. If you can’t have a laugh with your partner, then there is some work to be done, or dare I say it, they might not be the right person for you.
I appreciate that some relationships will be more jovial than others, and sense of humours will differ, so find what works for you. I’m more than happy for my partner to laugh at me and something I’ve done (because let’s be real, I do a lot of stupid shit), because it means he’s having fun, he’s relaxed and he’s happy. I know there’s no malice in what is said, because if there was, we wouldn’t be in a relationship.
I’m going to finish up with two final points.
If you are happy in your relationship, your partner treats you well and you can’t fault them, don’t listen to what other people say. Too many people have opinions about matters that have nothing to do with them, relationships are often one. It is no one else’s business who you date. Also, stop telling yourself what type of person you should be in a relationship with. Often, we have a picture of who we expect to end up with and sometimes these guys are completely wrong for us. Follow your heart and listen to what you know is right, not what you think you should be doing. Love comes when we least expect it and it’s much deeper than superficial factors.
The final point I would like to make, and this may be a bit controversial. I see far too many people stay in unhealthy relationships because: it’s easier than walking away; they don’t love themselves; they aren’t comfortable on their own; people think they look good together; they’re scared of the unknown or they’re scared of what people might say. I know leaving someone you love can be really hard, but you deserve to be in a mutually respectful relationship with someone who makes you feel amazing, has no conditions on your relationship, allows you to be your true self and supports you no matter what crazy idea you come up with.
Your friends will support you no matter what you do and will have your back. If they don’t, they aren’t your friends.
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, or a victim of family violence, there are helps available. You can call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) (National Service) or Safe Steps 1800 015 188 (Victorian Service) 24/7 for confidential advice, support or counselling.
Let me know what part of this most resonates with you.
Or, if you have any other suggestions to maintaining a healthy, happy relationship, let me know in the comments below!
If you are feeling a bit stuck in your relationship and want some help reigniting your spark and getting the fire burning, let me know. I would love to hear from you.