Failing relationship? It’s all in the head


What helps make my clock on the mantelpiece tick?

The answer to that is quite straight forward: I wind it up when it starts to slow and everything is put right in a single, quick functional action. It doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of effort to set things right with the aging timepiece. What makes my partner tick is, however, a totally different matter.

Like the clock, our relationship is aging as well but putting things ‘back on track’ when the dynamic between us begins to slow and falter is not as easy as the simple turning of a key. The longer our relationship has gone on, the harder it seems to be able to understand what is going on in my partner’s brain and probably vice-versa. We drift from one dance to the next, both desperately trying to second guess what the other person is thinking.

It’s become a game that I really didn’t think we’d end up playing – and it has affected everything in our relationship: our interaction as a couple socially, emotionally and physically. I had to ask myself, is this how relationships should be? Is this normal behavior for two people who love each other?

The problem is you get into a cycle of trying to read each other’s minds rather than doing the obvious i.e. sitting down and talking to each about the problems.

“What am I doing wrong?”

“Why isn’t my love reciprocated?”

“Why do I get pushed away the whole time?”

Remarkably, the same questions were going through my partner’s head the same time I was stressing out over them. Stupidly, we let these thoughts eat away at us both until we finally realized it was time to sit down and talk through our issues.

That decision didn’t come a moment too soon – our relationship was on the brink.

Rather than rush straight into therapy, we decided to seek some simple advice – some obvious steps that we could both take to get our relationship and our love life back. The start point was to agree that we both wanted our relationship to work and that our future was together. Importantly, stop the silly game of assuming we knew what the other person was thinking; this was killing our relationship by degrees.

We made a list of what actions were going to help us get through this sticky patch:
Get more quality time together. We needed to get out on dates again and start having the kinds of conversations which inspired us both. Stop assuming that we’d rather be doing something separately.

There’s an old saying: if you’ve nothing nice to say, then don’t say it. We both agreed we needed to encourage each other more and compliment rather than snipe. Genuine kind words made for a happier environment in the home and stronger positive feelings for one another.

Affection and physical contact needed to be part of our lives again. Taking time to just hold hands or steal the occasional hug seems a minor detail from the outside, but we realized how little we did it now and how important those moments are in a relationship. Our love life, we agreed, was in disarray; we both wanted more. Our libido’s could both do with a kick start so we looked to improve our diet, get more exercise (together!) and even started using herbal aphrodisiacs to provide a little more energy and desire. My partner found the treatment on worked really well and the results certainly improved things in the bedroom!

It was also the little things that we thought didn’t matter anymore (again, all part of trying to understand each other by thinking rather than talking…bad move). Carrying out small acts of kindness or helping out on those small chores which just help the world go round, had huge benefits. It may be clichéd and hackneyed, but dropping in surprise gifts, treats…even flowers from time to time…made a real difference in bringing us closer together emotionally.

These small things were what we, as a couple, needed to focus on to get our relationship working again. The psychological games had stopped and we were talking and loving again; discussing the things that make each other tick rather than trying to figure it out on our own.