As a relationship expert, I'm accustomed to the reality that couples don't call me until their relationship is really in trouble. It's not uncommon for those in a committed relationship to start to take the partnership for granted The comparison I often make is like noticing your nails. You don't see them growing; yet, one day, you look down and realize that indeed they need to be cut.
The result is that couples come in complaining about feeling disconnected, lonely, not mattering to each other, unending conflicts. The list goes on and on.
The saddest part of all of this is that it really didn't have to happen!
Perhaps, the first thing couples need to realize is that when you're in a long-term committed relationship, there are going to be struggles. This is normal!
Conflicts are a major source of difficulty for most couples because they tend to cause a wider gap between the two of you. You don't have to feel that you're not heard, that your needs aren't important, or a sense of neglect. There are skills for managing your conflicts that actually bring you closer together!
When you feel lost and alone and confused about what to do, it can all lead to feelings of resentment or hopelessness. As a result, it's just so hard to feel close to your mate. And, to make things even more problematic, it's really frustrating if your partner doesn’t want to get involved in making things better.
At this time of year, when we tend to pay attention to spring cleaning our homes, maybe it's time to take the cobwebs off our relationships and look to see where the dust has settled.
The simplest answer to making sure this gloomy situation doesn't occur is to do all the little things you did at the beginning of the relationship: show respect, pay attention to each other, appreciate one another, listen to each other when you speak — basically all the things that send the message to your mate, "You matter."
Of course, I'm aware that life happens. There are stressful jobs, and elderly parents who may get sick, a couple of kids, and well, life.
The other harsh reality is that we go to school to get an education and we learn to drive a car and for some of us there are other lessons we undertake, most of us haven't taken any courses on how to be in a relationship. For a relationship to work, you have to work at a relationship.
There are lots of ways to get these tools. Warning: Please DON'T think that movies and novels will help — they are merely the creation of the artist's fantasy. The best thing you can do is take a relationship course before you get into a committed relationship. However, if you haven't done so, there's still help. There are an amazing amount of books and articles that can offer help. If you feel like a more personal touch is needed, by all means, go for professional help. I realized that lots of folks don't have the time, money, or energy to get to a professional. So, I just created a new website, Make Your Marriage Work Now that offers comprehensive content each month on a different topic. And each month, there's a call where you can speak to me to ask individual questions.
It’s time to pay attention to your relationship — the sooner the better!
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