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Has your relationship lost its spark? Breathe new life into it to stop familiarity breeding contempt
The first in an occasional series on relationship issues by ProvenTherapy Director and Therapist, Matt Butler
Relationship feeling a little jaded? Lost the spark with your nearest and dearest? It’s unfortunately all too easy to take our partners for granted sometimes. The familiarity factor whereby we drift along in our most important relationships is common, though ultimately corrosive. We all need that extra spark in our relationships to keep them alive – the feeling that we are involved in something special; a frisson of excitement, a soupcon of … well … sauce. When in a committed relationship though we need to realise that we must act to make these things happen. This is vital in order to keep our relationships alive. It’s no accident that the word for keeping relationship alive is the same as that for keeping a fire going – relationships need kindling and re-kindling. The fire needs stoking. Ultimately such sparks of desire signify something we all yearn for but are sometimes phased by, maybe even a little scared of, intimacy and perhaps for some this is the root of the problem.
Relationship difficulties should remind us of the central importance of intimacy in our lives. Clearly a human desire, it is perhaps more than that, a human need.
Psychologist Robert Sternberg said, “Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still”. In an age of advanced communications it remains the case that people can still feel lonely amid apparent togetherness, even in outwardly committed relationships.
So, to keep your relationships kindled, re-kindled and positively fizzing here are ProvenTherapy’s tips for maintaining a great relationship.
6 tips to give your jaded relationship a boost
- Make a point of paying your loved one a compliment or two, pick out something you like about them and tell them you like it! Don’t lay it on too thick – just be honest about it
- Be physical but gentle. Take time for touch – a hug, a kiss .. and who knows, maybe something more ..
- Go on a date together. It’s so easy when in a long term relationship – especially if you have children – to get out of the habit of going out together so make a date and stick to it. Even if you can’t go out try taking time to dress up and have a candle lit dinner together indoors every once in a while
- Talk! Spend time each day talking to your significant other, find out what’s happening for them
- Listen! Take time to really listen to your partner. You might feel tempted to dive into communications with ‘answers’ or comments on your partner’s self-expression. Try not to act on these – really give them space to talk and freely express themselves. This will be time well spent
- Have some fun! Try not to take things so seriously. Even in the most difficult situations it is often possible to find some humour
In summary, if you find your relationship with your significant other is showing signs of strain then take some time out to re-connect – make time to rekindle those closest of relationships with tenderness, gentleness and understanding – before things have a chance to take a turn for the worse.
All couples experience some problems with communication, intimacy, beliefs, personality-conflicts, etc. at one time or another. Are the differences strong enough to create chaos or even the inability to co-exist? There are a few ways to assess whether your relationship needs and is ready for on-line counseling. The underlying initial question is Do I want to continue the relationship?
1. Do both partners agree that the relationship is worth saving?
If one partner has made up their mind to leave the relationship then long term therapy is not the answer although a session with a therapist to close the relationship is worth the investment. If each person wants to continue the relationship then therapy is for you.
2. If each person can admit that the issues in the relationship have not been solvable together, then a third party needs to help.
Arguing, tuning out or just existing in the same house are no way to live together. If the communication problems won’t go away or if the same argument repeats itself then a counselor will help to mend the issues.
3. Can you embrace the fact that accepting a therapist’s help isn’t a sign of weakness but a positive step forward?
Friends and family are a great resource- a good outlet if you need to share problems but they will always give subjective advice no matter what their intentions are. Often times they will be surprised and perhaps judge why you would seek a professional. Keep in mind that their judgments may have deep personal roots and that you are making a positive step. Your decision will only result in a happier partnership.
4. Do you each agree that you are responsible for the problems?
Relationships are a partnership. Placing all blame on the other is counterproductive. Even if a specific event or personality trait is what is leading you to therapy, both participants will need to explore their feelings, behavior, and reaction.
5. Are your expectations for the therapist positive and realistic?
While the therapist will help guide you, explore the origins of your behavior and feelings and give suggestions for better communication, child-rearing, intimacy, etc. it is you that needs to complete the ‘homework’ and take ownership. The therapist cannot ‘fix’ you or your relationship without your participation.
6. Are your expectations for change in the relationship realistic?
Are you ready to accept and adopt changes in behavior? Are you ready to change while (and not wait for) your partner also takes steps forward? Tell your partner that you are willing and hoping to do this for the relationship and agree that this will not be an overnight process.
The advantage to on-line counseling is that you can speak or email a counselor when the time is convenient and complete homework and experience change in a timely way.
Congratulations and enjoy the positive process.
Take Online Family Therapy or Relationship Counseling for marriage and relationship problems now.
Rodica Mihalis, a professionally qualified Counselor, is the latest addition to the ProvenTherapists team to extend healing touch to troubled hearts and souls through person-centered Rogerian methods.
PRLog (Press Release) – Feb. 25, 2013 – Originally from Eastern Europe, Rodica holds a M.S. in Counseling and Clinical Psychology from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, joined the ProvenTherapists team recently.
The focus of her practice is on relationships, improving couple communication, loss and grief and parental support. For ten years she worked in the wellness industry, specializing in stress management using natural methods such as breathing exercises, positive visualizations and aromatherapy.
Rodica’s educational background and life experiences make her an empathetic counselor who understands the complexities of the human nature. She will listen, evaluate the special needs of clients and offer her professional suggestions so they may achieve desired goals.