Why Comfortable-But-Passionless Relationships Never, Ever Last

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unhappy couple

After being in a relationship for a few years, what are things like between you and your partner?

Let’s paint a scenario. You both get home after work and have dinner. What is your conversation like? Do you both talk about your day? What about how you felt and what you learned that day?

Do the both of you make gestures to show that you love them? Or do you both end the day by staring at your own screens?

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The Honeymoon period may be long over, but that doesn’t mean that your relationship should be without passion. The issue with a comfortable relationship is that both people do not grow and learn as a couple.

The relationship becomes static. Sure, it is pleasant. But what is the difference between your partner and your favorite mug?

In order to spice up a passionless marriage, it is important to identify the patterns of a comfortable relationship. From that point, you and your partner learn how to better commit to each other in future.

Understanding Relationship Patterns

Relationship patterns are how we behave through our interactions, wants, and needs. Everyone has a different pattern.

These appear according to the kind of action or behavior our partners exhibit during different times or phases in the relationship.

Some patterns can be good, others can be damaging. On the one hand, positive patterns merge in our relationships, which contributes to the depth and enjoyment of our relationships. These are the relationships that grow and develop.

But we need to look out for destructive patterns which can create unhappiness between you and your partner.

Good patterns include the need to display and communicate your care for your partner and the need to communicate as well as the desire to connect with them.

Some bad examples are going isolating oneself, projecting their past hurt onto the partner, reacting with malice (veiled or otherwise) to action by your partner, and viewing one’s value as more important than the partner.

In a comfortable relationship, the pattern in the union is not outwardly negative such as in an abusive relationship. But it can be negative instead of supportive and building each other up; it is taking a lot of energy to keep committing to each other.

If you find yourself having one or more bad patterns, there are simple steps that could aid you in overcoming these patterns so your relationship gets a revival and become the positive, healthy experience that it could be.

The Trappings of a Comfortable Relationship

A comfortable and amicable relationship can be a trap. It establishes a personal boundary within a relationship.

An example of this is one where you both do your own thing while you are in the same room. There is no activity you do together, as a couple. Be careful! Such a relationship becomes static.  

When this occurs often, this creates a sense of comfort between you and your partner. The emphasis on personal space creates a distance. This becomes too much of a protected relationship that does not allow a connection between two people.

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How To Spice Up A Comfortable Relationship

Once you’ve identified the patterns, go beyond that to understand the motivations behind them. Does it have to do with their family values? You can see this when one partner is physically active and loves sports while the other partner is more passive and prefers intellectual challenges. Both will tend to evaluate each other based on their own preferences.

The active one will try to get the partner to be more active. The intellectual one will desire the partner to be more intellectually stimulating.

Follow up on this by both of you stating what is most important to you followed by a projection upon each other.

Following the example above, the active partner may consider health as vital as she may have lost a loved one due to a neglect of an active lifestyle, and this is how she views love, that if her partner loves her enough, he would want to be active and healthy too.

The passive partner, on the other hand, may find life to be far more interesting if challenged intellectually and wishes that his partner would spend more time sharpening her mind because he had someone close to him who had dementia and wishes that his mind and the minds of his loved ones be kept mentally active and delay the possibility of such pain reoccurring.

Often, the truths about our motivations are not easily shared as they are deeply personal and require a deep understanding before they emerge as an influence on the current behavior.

Being able to communicate at this level allows for a deep understanding of the existence of the pattern that has proven to be unhealthy. (As a life coach, I can help facilitate the communication space for difficult conversations between them.)

The final step is to work out a way to achieve the desires of each partner which uses the pattern to strengthen the relationship. There is often an understanding that comes to light in a deeper conversation about what is truly behind a behavior inside a pattern.

In the previous example, since both partners find themselves deeply caring about each other’s health due to their common concerns, it paves the grounds for a mental-and-physical health goal that they both could work towards.

Here are 3 ways you can continue to spice up a comfortable but passionless marriage:

1. Live in the moments of connection and interaction.

I tend to argue for the depth and quality of the connecting moments over the number of mundane interactions (such as binge-watching TV shows).

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Such deep connections require a time and space set aside for them to be constructed. Try volunteering together or taking a cooking class as a couple.

2. Set times for deep communication.

Being able to have signals to indicate the need for communication as well as periodically (I recommend at least once every 3 months) allows for the partners to open up and talk about things that matter to the relationship and each other on this journey together.

3. Do little things for your partner.

Show appreciation, care and concern, notes, and signs of affection. Plan the big things with your partner such as adventures, holidays, dreams, and tackling bucket lists together.

Kelvin Lim is a coaching specialist and the co-author of 3 published books. He continues his research and development efforts through his program design work as well as seeking highly accomplished masters in varied disciplines to advance his knowledge of transforming human and organizational consciousness and performance.