We’ve all been there…
Your heart trembles with anticipation. His looks, his smell, and his sparkling eyes. His touch sends a shiver through your longing body. His voice is music you never get tired of.
You almost forget to breathe.
He used to be your universe.
For a while.
What happened to your excitement? You talk less and cuddle less. In bed, you say: “Sleep well, honey,” and turn away.
“He doesn’t understand me anymore,” you tell to a friend. “And he doesn’t care.”
Is your love dead, and you better start packing?
I bet not!
Every relationship has ups and downs. Infatuation doesn’t last long.
Learn the art of nurturing your relationship into mature love.
It’s easier than you might think. And the benefit is huge – your happiness as a couple.
Want to hear?
I learned it the hard way.
Let me explain.
Time to Change Has Come
My first marriage failed. Young and crippled with low self-esteem, I had a foggy idea of how I wanted my marriage to be.
Two years after the wedding I walked away and never looked back.
When my second marriage hit the rocks, it was a Big Bang of a wake-up call.
Here is what I learned and how it helped me to save my marriage.
1. If you want to change something, always start with yourself.
I chose therapy to deal with my personal issues – a list longer than the equator. Anxiety and depression, neediness and poor communication skills. Insecurity and distrust…
How can you love someone when you don’t love yourself? Don’t even know who you are?
Like Julia Robert’s runaway bride, I had to find out who I was. What I liked and disliked. What I wanted my life to be. In therapy, I met the real me, and what a dazzling experience it has been.
Try different approaches to your partner, and he will react differently to you.Click To Tweet
Stick to the change you like the most to make it long-lasting.
2. Accept your partner as he is.
It took me long to realise that most of my husband’s shortcomings were stronger than my will to change him.
No matter how much I disapproved, they would not fizzle out. Like a blob of a chewing gum, they could only be removed together with a lock of hair.
The only solution was to make peace with his flaws and with myself.
You don’t have to love your partner’s flaws and shortcomings, but they are a part of the man you fell in love with.
Respect your differences.
3. Connect from a place of love.
Can be challenging, ha? I know. But hugely important to remember when you feel frustrated or annoyed.
To connect with this soft place inside myself, I think of small notes my husband leaves for me to find. With a smiley and “I love you” at the end. Or remember him rushing out to bring my shopping bags into the house. Pleasure on his face when I prepare a juicy T-bone steak he loves.
Being in this place makes it easier to be kind, forgiving and generous. To think of him before yourself.
That’s what love is about, isn’t it?
Focus on what he does for you, not what he forgets. Let him know you appreciate his effort – with a kind word, a loving gesture or a smile.
4. You cannot get all your needs met in a romantic relationship. Period.
So don’t waste your time. It is not going to happen.
I used to be a nagging queen until my therapist bluntly told me, “Take care of your needs. It’s up to you and nobody else.”
Some news to digest but what choice did I have?
I like to travel so I planned our next tour myself. I love classical concerts, so I went alone or with a friend. I want to stay fit, so I joined a fitness studio.
My husband had a choice – either to join me or not (without choice, the air between us would get icy).
If you only rely on others to make you feel good, you are on a wrong path. Get off it, now! It is not your partner’s job to make you happy. It’s yours.
Learn to own your needs.
5. Understand your frustrations.
Let’s say you’re getting seriously annoyed with your partner because of something he does or doesn’t do. Look deeper than a forgotten trash bag or smelly socks on the bathroom floor.
Is it your longing for respect, equality, and reassurance that he still cares about you? Find out and deal with it.
I used to think it was disrespect, even sabotage of my hard work to keep the house clean. And hey, it turned out that for my husband it was always about those stinking socks.
6. Disagreement is a part of a healthy relationship.
Simply because we are different.
Viewing disagreements as a threat to peace, I tried to avoid them at any cost. At the same time, allowing resentment to grow.
An argument might help you to resolve an issue and come to a better understanding.
Yet, don’t wait too long. Don’t let your frustration balloon until it blasts into his face like a hurricane. Leaving him to wonder where it came from – right in the middle of a sunny day.
7. Keep a balance between giving and taking.
Giving too much leaves you frustrated and rebellious. Remember your needs are important, too.
Not being able to receive, however, makes your partner feel inadequate and care less. Allow him to do things for you. But don’t expect him to read your mind. Tell him what you want, and accept his gifts with gratitude. They are proof of his true love for you. No matter if you asked for them or not.
I used to give a lot and didn’t know how to receive. Finding a right balance brought easiness into our marriage.
8. Cultivate separateness.
Being intimate with your partner doesn’t mean to become one person. How interested would you be to see an old movie, day after day? Even if you loved it once, it would lose its magic.
My husband and I have different interests…and that is O.K. Spending time apart doesn’t mean we are losing our connection. On the contrary, spending time alone adds fun and freshness to our relationship.
An overdose of intimacy kills desire in long-term relationships according to Esther Perel.
9. Learn communication skills.
How healthy couples interact. It will save you from a pool of misunderstandings and hurt.
Learn how to listen attentively and send clear messages. How to solve disagreements without a fight. Simply ask for what you want and show appreciation.
I took a postgraduate training as an Imago relationship therapist to learn the skill.
You don’t have to.
Make It Happen
Change is hard so don’t expect it to occur overnight.
But it is possible.
To make a lasting change, you have to be persistent and patient. It took time to be where I am today.
Is it worth the trouble?
It certainly is.
I’ve found the happiness I didn’t know was possible.
You might just need a slight change, a shift.
You can DIY.
Make a decision and step on a path of change.
A change in your partner’s behaviour will be your BONUS.
Edited by Yvonne Reese
Image by Stocksnap.io