Are you asking yourself, "How did we get here?"
Just because you're two people who love each other and cohabitate, married or not, you're still two people living separate lives. Perhaps you both work busy, demanding, high-pressure jobs, and coming home at the end of the day means you can just unwind, unplug, and disconnect. If you spend all day on the telephone for work, maybe the last thing you want to do is talk. Maybe your career is in the helping field, and at the end of the day you feel the need for "alone time." Or do you think the end of the day is the only time you have to catch up on emails?
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These feelings are understandable and the situations realistic. However, it makes it far too easy to disconnect from the one you love the most, and if you aren't careful, you'll find yourself feeling like roommates rather than lovers. Isn't home supposed to be where the heart is?
When want to find your way back to being a couple again, these 5 steps will help get you there.
1. Be a Change Agent
Someone always needs to take the first step. Let that person be you. You can't change anyone else, and the situation won't fix itself. Take responsibility and make the first move. If spending more quality time together is what your relationship needs, set up a date. If communication has gone dry or non-existent, initiate conversation. But remember: don't be pushy! Your partner might not be ready to delve right into a conversation about "What’s wrong with us? Let's get back on track." Ask "How would you feel us about going out on Saturday — I'll make arrangements?" rather than serving up your already-set plan. Start slowly and don't expect appreciation. Remember that you're the one doing the work, and you're doing it for yourself first.
2. Define Your Self
Healthy relationships start with healthy boundaries and a healthy sense of self from both partners. Clarify your personal boundaries. Know "where you end and I begin." You are your own person when you show up for work. Be your own person when you show up in your relationship too. Make yourself a priority, and give yourself large doses of self-care. When you're tired and exhausted, you won't bring your best self into any relationship. Being centered, well-balanced, and owning a strong sense of self will make you less inclined to blame the other person or expect them to change. What can you do to be more energized? More positive? Find ways to love yourself first, and your relationship will be enhanced.
3. Take a Trip down Memory Lane
Remember how you felt when you first fell in love? What did you love about the other person that you can't remember now when you're feeling stuck? Take some time reflecting back on how and why you fell in love. Looking at old photographs of a happy memory you shared, reading letters, notes, or cards you received or shared will bring back that loving feeling. Did you have a great time at a certain restaurant or venue? Plan a trip back. Has it been a long time since you made his or her favorite meal? Create it with love. Write a note. Be nostalgic. Be creative.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
And do it with Care. This might be the most difficult step, especially if the disconnection has been going on for a long time. When you communicate, talk about yourself by using lots of "I am" statements and at all costs, avoid the blame game. It took two of you to get where you are. Instead of saying you feel neglected, say "I really miss you when you're away." Make observations rather than judgments. An observation is when you talk about a fact. "We haven’t been out together in a couple months." A judgment is when you label it good or bad. "You never take me out anymore."
When you communicate, try bringing some lightness into the conversation. Try smiling even when you don't feel like it. Your mood will change, and you will likely engage your partner more readily. Treat your partner with the same gentleness and love that you prefer.
5. Make Time for Togetherness
The same busy, distracted lives you have been living separately will still be there tomorrow. It is vitally important when recreating a sense of connectedness to make time for each other a priority. Place as high a priority on your relationship as you do on your job. If there is something lower on your priority list that is taking time away from you and your partner — get rid of it. Do you spend more time watching TV or searching the Internet at night than you do engaging in conversation with your partner? Unplug. And that means at the dinner table, too. Sharing 15 minutes a day is a powerful way to stay connected. Dinnertime is a good time for this, as long as you put your phones away and turn off the television. Make your 15 minute connection rituals a time where you "meet and share," not "plan and compare." No agendas. Just some one-on-one. Treat these moments like dates. Remember when you were first getting to know each other? You certainly didn't get out your calendars and discuss to-do lists! Don't do that now either. Save that for a different, scheduled time.
It's never too late to get reconnected. The person you fell in love with and the person you want to be are still there, somewhere. Take some time to find each other again!
Balance Expert, Certified Life-Coach
and the founder of Balanced Moments
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