We have a tendency to take our partners for granted. The courtship was wonderful, the love-making great. Then we get married and settle down and focus on other things. Slowly there are times of disconnection. Arguments may fester unresolved. There seems to be nothing to talk about. Other people and interests get more attention because it feels more satisfying. Sometimes one partner is completely oblivious to the unhappiness of the other.
Raising complaints can feel like rocking the boat so many people sit tight hoping things will improve. Which they do sometimes – you take that planned holiday and reconnect, or a significant event pulls you together for awhile. But then we drift back to everyday concerns and away from each other.
Relationships are like cars, without regular maintenance the engine/relationship will break down. For some reason we forget that the things we did during courtship are what we fell in love with, and when those things no longer happen it feels like we have been sold a false bill of goods. Some people seem to believe, I got the prize, so now I don’t have to keep trying. At the same time most of them continue to put oil in their car to keep things going smoothly even though it’s paid for, but they forget the touch, affection, appreciation, support and conversation that oils and maintains human relationships.
Luckily, we have already shown in courtship that we can do what it takes for our partner to love us. By putting back in place some of the courtship rituals, connection can be remade every single day. It is the little things that matter. Research has shown that just 15 minutes a day of real conversation and connection strengthens the partnership. Some strategies are:
time only with each other
eye to eye gaze
a real kiss when leaving or returning
checking occasionally how the relationship is doing (0 to 10, where 0 is tanked and 10 is bliss)
considering the impact of our other activities, interests and relationships on our partner
listening and sharing our experiences of the day
Have you hugged the ones you love today?
Have you told them you love them?
Have you listened to their concerns without fixing and shared you own challenges and let them see your vulnerability?
That’s what we need to do to maintain healthy relationships on which we can always rely, but never take for granted.