There are times in the life of a long term
relationship when you feel stuck. This
doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship; long term relationships
have a natural ebb and flow to their energy.
Most people don’t really understand that, and as the energy in the
relationship ebbs, they fear that the end is near. This can create a self-fulfilling prophesy;
as you feel stuck in the relationship, you can begin to look for what’s wrong
instead of what’s right. Little things
he does begin to really bug you, and you become less attracted to him.
How can you pull yourself out of this
downward spiral? How do you know when
you should try? My fast answer to the
second question is that every relationship, unless it’s physically or
emotionally abusive, deserves a second chance.
Most likely, your partner has no idea how you’re really feeling. If he knew, chances are he would want to do
something to help improve the relationship.
Here are some simple steps to give your
relationship the opportunity to pull up out of its nose dive.
Spend a couple of hours alone with a
journal to contemplate and write about your feelings. What kinds of things are you really telling
yourself about the relationship?
Bringing them into the light by writing them down can help you get clear
on what’s bothering you.
Commit to doing something to help
yourself. Commit to going to the gym
five days a week, meditating for fifteen minutes every day, or eating
better. It’s important to give this
commitment to yourself in order to validate your own importance. Often, women lose themselves in their
relationships; this step can help you find your self again.
Speak up. It’s not easy, but if you really want to
improve the relationship, you have to clearly state your needs. It’s best to do this when you’re both
relaxed, and to frame the conversation in “I” sentences. If you start the conversation by saying, “You
never clean up after yourself” or “you’re too absorbed with work and don’t pay
me any attention” you’re more likely to shut him down than open a
Offer concrete suggestions for
improvement. If you don’t feel
appreciated, name a few specific things he can do to show appreciation. Men are doers, not thinkers. I mean no disrespect here, their brains are
just wired differently than ours (and of course, there are exceptions to every
rule). Their ideas for how to show
appreciation might not mean much to you.
If you’re taking it this far, you might as well ask for exactly what you
Be consistent. You can’t expect to have one talk magically
improve a relationship that’s been going downhill for months or years. Be consistent with your self-care, and be
consistent in requesting to get your needs met.
Change isn’t easy for most people.
Left to our own devices, we’ll revert back to old behaviors. Given gentle, consistent reminders, we can
navigate change more graciously.
Make time each week to connect with
your partner. Life gets busy, especially
with kids. Commit to spending some time
alone together every week, even if it’s for twenty minutes over coffee on
Sunday morning. Use this time to check
in with how you’re feeling about each other and the relationship. By consciously connecting to each other as
partners, you’ll deepen your connection, which will help when times get