There's a new way to reset your romance.
Relationships start wonderfully.
Attraction turns to infatuation turns to love. We feel the connection, act on it, and include them in our day-to-day lives. We’ve been looking for a “great relationship,” and have now found one. But as the months and years go by, the infatuation that once attracted us can start to wane.
Complacency rears its ugly head, and disconnection starts.
But most of the time, we are unaware of how things are changing until it’s too late.
Disconnection most often starts slowly and unveils itself in small increments; nearly imperceptible when added into the chaos of life: commutes, housework, careers, kids, and responsibilities ad nauseam.
Priorities shift, tension rises, and patience dwindles.
The result ranges from mild annoyance to complete contempt, where you look across the breakfast table at your partner and think to yourself, “Wow. Is this it? Is this what ‘marriage’ is supposed to be? How did we get here?”
Disconnection is the same as connection, in that it takes the same amount of effort — you work together to build a life, and it takes focus to disconnect and de-couple — even if that effort happens slowly and/or subconsciously.
The recognition that the proverbial honeymoon is over can be both overwhelming and relieving, but scary nonetheless.
For many, it serves as a wake-up call. You see that things aren’t right, and you want to change. You want your partner to change. You want your relationship great again. But how? Where do you even start?
Hitting the reset button on your relationship or marriage is fraught with challenges, the most important of which is this: old patterns don’t just die hard, they die kicking and screaming while dragging anything good or healthy into the abyss with them.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in resetting your relationship is that you’re in it.
The patterns and dynamics are established, and you don’t have any perspective. And of course you don’t; you can’t have perspective on something you’re in.
This is usually the point where people seek out a marriage counselor, and begin the long road back to a place of connection and bliss with their partner.
They spend weeks or months addressing not only the symptoms of their day-to-day dissatisfaction but also getting underneath the symptoms to root out and address the original cause.
The process is challenging, as the pattern is well-established. This is a couple who is most often living together, and they reinforce their negative patterns every day while they only see their therapist once-a-week for 60 minutes. Hardly the recipe for shifting things for the better.
A new and innovative approach to relationship counseling has appeared on the scene over the past couple of years: Switch Therapy.
Switch Therapy — showcased on FYI’s smash-hit docu-drama Seven Year Switch — removes the patterns by removing the people from their emotionally-damaged situations, and instead partners them with someone else who is going through similar issues.
Switch Therapy allows for two positive outcomes: 1). They will stop the continuous reinforcement of bad patterns and behaviors with their partner, and 2). They can practice positive behaviors in a clean (read: untainted) environment, devoid of judgment and fear: communication, negotiation, honesty, and trust.
These are the cornerstones of any successful relationship, and most often these are the very things that have broken down. Switch Therapy provides the avenue to reconnection.
Rejuvenating your relationship with your partner can feel daunting, but even if you can’t connect with a therapist or counselor who offers Switch Therapy as a mechanism to rebuild your relationship, there are many things you can do to start the process of reconnection.
1. Start over.
You can’t “go back” to a relationship that is disconnected. It will only lead you to the same place of disconnection. You have to start over and build something new.
2. Get honest… with them, with yourself, and with the state of your relationship.
You can’t change things if you don’t look at them objectively and honestly. You have to get real about what’s happening — for you and for your relationship.
You have to accept the truth that the two of you are starting to drift/grow apart so you can begin the process of course-correction. And being honest can be scary, as you have to be vulnerable and willing to look at things objectively.
3. Talk about the way you feel, not what they are doing.
Too often, couples stuck in a rut look at the other person as the problem. They don’t invest anymore. They don’t do what I want. They aren’t passionate/loving/affectionate. If they conversation starts with “You” statements (i.e. “You don’t pay attention to me.”), it will create an adversarial discussion that is rooted in defensiveness.
The result will be two people who are defending themselves instead of listening with empathy. Instead, discuss how you feel with statements that reflect you, not them.
Example: Instead of “You don’t spend any time with me anymore,” say “I feel like I don’t matter to you,” or “I feel ignored by you.” This allows them to hear your view/feelings, and then discuss why you might feel that way — as well as how they are potentially contributing to it.
As the two of you examine the situation, work to accept their point of view as their truth… even if you don’t agree with them.
4. Get tactical.
Discussion is great, but it takes action to shift things. One of the biggest issues facing couples is time — or a lack thereof. Commutes, jobs, housework, kids, hobbies, finances… everything plays a part of how couples disconnect.
Things are deemed “necessary” or “more important,” so the marriage/relationship is looked at as the thing they “will get to later, when there’s time.” But that time often doesn’t come until it’s too late.
Make your relationship a priority, and the rest of things will fall into place. Planning time together is critical. But more importantly, a disconnected couple looking to reconnect needs to get back to the things that connected them in the first place.
Call them in the middle of the day for no reason — just to say hello.
Leave them a note in their coat pocket. Show your kids that mom-and-dad time is just as important as family time — and then go on a date without the kids in-tow. Kiss them goodnight instead of just saying it. The little things and behaviors will always go further than big gifts.
5. Get vulnerable.
One of the biggest challenges in any relationship is allowing them to see you emotionally stripped down. When fear and disconnection are present, it’s nearly impossible to allow them “in.” You fear being judged. You “know what they are going to say.” You resent them for [insert reason here].
To break this pattern, you have to get to a place where you go all-in. You have to reset things and get to a place where you put your effort in and let the past go.
If you want to stay connected and avoid the need for something as radical and drastic as Switch Therapy — where you risk your marriage in order to save it — you have to remember one simple thing: relationships and marriages are made up of two individuals. Those individuals will always be learning, growing, and adding to their experiences — both as individuals and as a couple.
Wake up each morning not knowing them and, instead, discover them each day.
If you do, you will stay connected. If you don’t, you might end up on Seven Year Switch looking for answers.