You found The One -- your soulmate, the partner who completed you, understood you, made you want to be a better person. Being around each other was so easy. So how did you get from being soulmates to feeling like you bring out the worst in each other -- in fact, you can hardly stand to be in the same room?
If you’ve gone to see an individual therapist about your feelings, I’m sorry to say that often you may hear alarming comments like, “You’ve lost yourself in this relationship” or “You’re not assertive enough,” followed by gloomy suggestions about your inadequate childhood. It’s true you probably need to work on being assertive, but that’s not necessarily because there’s something terribly wrong with you or your spouse. You’re stuck between two major relationship stages.
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Falling in love -- discovering our soulmate -- transports us to a heavenly realm with no boundaries. We see ourselves in the eyes of our soulmate partner and, boy, do we look good. We’re larger than life, floating on air. That's the first stage.
Sooner or later, facing the nitty gritty details of building a life together, most couples land with a thud. Work, sex, in-laws, money, socializing, children: any of these can floor us as we discover that we and our soulmate view some very important things very differently. Before you pack up your suitcase, here are 5 steps that can power your marriage forward to the next stage:
1. Recognize this as a moment full of potential for you as a couple. Time to “graduate” to the second stage of marriage, a more autonomous way of relating that gives you both space to be individuals. Can you open your mind to that possibility?
2. Stop looking at what your partner is “doing wrong” and consider what you want for your marriage right now. Rather than aim for sweeping changes, focus on 3 manageable goals for your relationship right now. Write them down. “I would like you to ask your mother to call before she comes over so that I feel like you are teaching her to respect us as a couple..” “When I tell you a story about my work, I would like you to ask me a follow-up question so I feel like you’re listening.” “I would like us to talk about how to improve our sex life.” Be specific and matter-of-fact. No complaining, no blaming.
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3. Nurture yourself. If you’ve stopped going to dance class or the nail salon because you’ve been hanging out with your partner and his softball buddies all weekend, set aside time to do things you enjoy, either alone or with friends. You’ll feel better and have more to give to the relationship. Keep Reading...
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