Do you remember the first time you met your partner or the anticipation you felt for your first date and the beginning of your current relationship? You were most likely excited to learn about each other and had a desire to connect in a way that made you both feel good and warm on the inside. You may have put on nice clean clothes and paid extra attention to your hair and makeup. You probably tried really hard to be polite and considerate, as well as display a level of interest and empathy towards your partner and they towards you. Then things changed. Before you knew it, the romance slowly crept away, the smiles turned to frowns, conversations turned to arguments and feelings of resentment set in. You also may have questioned if you made the right decision by committing to this person and whether or not things could get better, BUT they can! Below are some steps we advise couples like you to take in reconnecting with your partner.
- Identify at least three things that are important to your partner and begin doing them. A lot of times there are things that are very important to your partner but are trivial to you. He or she may have asked you several times to send nice messages or flowers, help with household responsibilities, allow time to wind down after work, or give him/her time to engage in a hobby without any disturbances or criticism. Doing it would mean the world to your partner but you forget to do it, don’t want to do it, or you are so frustrated with your partner’s lack of concern towards your needs that you don’t do it out of spite. Get rid of those thoughts, be reasonable, and do it!
- Compliment your partner. Sometimes, day-to-day routine and life gets in the way of seeing the good in your partner and/or in your relationship. You may take simple and mundane things your partner does for granted. Letting them know you notice these things is important. Telling them that they look pretty/handsome/sexy and complimenting them on a job well done, shows your appreciation and that you care. This can go a long way.
- Allow your partner to teach or influence you. When it comes to your life and family, you may think that you always know best. This is not true at all! If that were the case, there would be no resources or people to teach or guide you throughout your life. Your partner can serve as a support, teacher, and resource if YOU ALLOW them. Relinquishing some of the control in your life and in your relationship is scary, but it is worth it. Giving them permission to influence you communicates to your partner that you trust him/her and their judgment.
- Establish a date night at least twice a month. All work and no fun make for a boring life and a boring relationship. Yes, you have to be a responsible adult, take care of the kids, budget, work, sleep, eat, and do chores. But guess what, you also have to remember to ALWAYS date your partner. Take time out away from work, the kids, and family to spend quality time together rejuvenating the romance and intimacy in your relationship. This effort can be simple and inexpensive. For example, you can go out for coffee at a local book store, take a walk or hike at a park, or have a picnic at home. If you can’t afford a babysitter and have a flexible schedule, go out for lunch while the kids are at school. Just be sure to take an interest in your partner and not talk about the kids all the time. One day, the kids will be gone and you need to have commonality with your partner.
- Be willing to engage and be positive about things that may not interest you but interest your partner. Over the course of your relationship, you may have realized that you and your partner don’t have as much in common as you did or thought you did at the beginning of the relationship. He or she likes things that you find boring, stupid, silly, or just wasteful. You may have thought that you could change him/her or convert them to love what you love but that didn’t happen. Guess what, that’s okay. Your partner can have interests that you don’t care about, but you also can learn to engage and have a positive attitude about them. If you want to reconnect with your partner, it is crucial that you are willing to engage in some activities that interest your partner and vice versa.
- Learn to turn to your partner. At times, life gets tough and things that go on INSIDE our personal life but OUTSIDE our relationship end up impacting our relationship. No one is perfect and this is completely normal. When this happens, the key is to turn towards your partner and communicate what’s going on INSIDE of you. Sharing is caring right? Share with your partner and refrain from excluding them and only sharing with others. This may be a recipe for an affair if you start sharing with someone outside of your relationship. To safeguard your relationship, work toward repairing issues that may have crept in over time and kept you from trusting your partner. As you repair these issues, it will be easier to turn to them and share.
Employing these practices are skills that can be used to reconnect with your partner and save your relationship. Don’t get me wrong, it is common to drift away from your partner but recognizing that this behavior is dangerous and costly can trigger you to do something differently. Try it. After all, as an adult in a relationship, you share a responsibility to put practices in place to reconnect with your partner. Take time to reflect on your partner and your relationship. Share these tips with your partner and attempt to reconnect with him or her. It can change and improve your relationship.
By Tanya St. Julien, MA, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor in Raleigh, NC.