I saw some friends recently for a girly night out and talk quickly turned to their partners. I was quite surprised to hear it was not all hearts and flowers in their relationships. Boredom, unhappiness and dissatisfaction all featured in their love lives. This led me to think ….is this more commonplace than not? How many people in long term relationships are happy?
Being in a relationship with anyone, be it a business partnership or a romantic one needs constant work, enthusiasm and a whole lot of compromise for it to stay in tip top condition. In a romantic encounter, it’s easy to be enthusiastic at the beginning of a new relationship; it’s flattering to have someone find you sexy, attractive and alluring. So you dress your best, spending hours choosing the perfect outfit, you exfoliate, pluck, shave, moisturise and coiffure yourself to the last square inch, and when that is all done, the anticipation of the forthcoming date alone can be all consuming. Those butterfly feelings in your tummy prior to meeting and the warm glow you feel deep inside can be so intoxicating. On the date you may spend hours talking, holding hands, maybe until the sun comes up. Kisses are long and lingering, hot and passionate and the sex can be mind-blowing. So where does it all go wrong?
Perhaps it’s because it’s become too routine or a chore; it’s easier to put on those sweatpants and an old cardigan than to dress up. Maybe the “old man” hasn’t bothered to shave, isn’t looking as trim and buff as he used to, you’re tired, the kids are playing up, there’s a lot going on, work is stressful, you have deadlines to meet, you’re under pressure, you just don’t feel sexy any more, no one understands you. More often than not communication between you and your partner has stopped.
So many of my clients who see me for relationship problems tell me what they think is happening with their partners, but on closer investigation it turns out that they are not communicating with each other; they are assuming what the other person is thinking and then getting upset when their partner doesn’t know what’s wrong with them or their relationship, even though they haven’t told them. Until we learn the ability to read each other’s minds, we need to use our mouths to tell that person what we want and need.
In a world where we are all under so much pressure and stress, have money worries, job insecurities, feel uneasiness and uncertainty, it is easy to take it out at those closest. You can’t exactly tell the boss what he can’t do with his job, but you can take it home and regurgitated all your frustrations at your partner. This can make them feel unloved, unwanted and unappreciated.
Others may feel that the excitement has long gone from their relationship; they have been there and done that. Same old, same old. It’s dull, boring and repetitive. In a recent survey carried out by Relate it was found that the main reasons cited for marriage break ups and infidelity were due to “drifting apart and a lack of connection, feeling unloved, low self-esteem and an imbalance in shared responsibilities”.
So what should you do to make your relationship work and bring it back from the brink?
I believe the most important thing is to talk to each other. Simple as! Find out what your partner wants and talk about what you want. Think about how it was in the beginning and what you found attractive and exciting about each other, what it means being a couple, what you want to get out of it?
A little homework I set my clients is to write out 5 to 10 personal affirmations. These statements could be things you like, things you want your partner to do, maybe things that used to happen or things you’ve never tried but want to. Again, if you’ve never said it, how does your partner know? Think of it as a love contract! Not all suggestions will not happen, you have to be realistic – being dressed as a sexy fire fighter or police officer or wearing 8” heels, stockings and a mini skirt every day could become a little tedious and may not be the most practical of attire, especially to take the kids to school, but it doesn’t have to be totally off limits. Likewise if your partner isn’t pulling their weight, if household chores are not being shared and one party is feeling unappreciated, taken for granted or put upon, this is not going to lead to harmony in the household and certainly no bonking in the bedroom! Obviously, there will have to be some compromise made in these requests, but at least you have communicated what you like and what you would like to happen in your relationship. It doesn’t cost a lot to smell and look nice, or to help more around the house, just a bit of effort and thought is required on both sides.
Once you have made your list and talked about the things you’d like to happen, the next step is to put these requests into action. A lot has been said about “date nights” for those in long-term relationships but far from it being a waste of time, it is a way of getting back to the early days when your relationship was exciting.
Think about what first attracted you to each other. I am a great believer in writing things down, so write a “love letter” to your partner. Tell them what it was that you first found attractive and what you find attractive now. Think about how you would feel if they weren’t in your life, what would you miss? Thinking about how they made you feel in the early days of your relationship and recreating those feelings now. Putting these ideas onto paper and read them back to yourself, will help you and your partner identify what was and is good in your relationship, and how you can build and strengthen your bond.
It must also be noted that men and women are like two totally different species; the authors of the book “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars” was not kidding when they wrote it. Men and women react differently to stimuli and situations; men can be more visual and women more auditory. This is most apparent when getting undressed ready for bed. Contrary to popular belief, men are not looking at their wives’ or girlfriends’ “fat bits” or cellulite, they’re probably thinking “she’s getting naked, will be in my bed shortly and I might be up for a shag!” Tip of the day: the biggest and most sensual erogenous zone in the human body in both sexes is, of course, the brain. So in a world of technical advancement, why not take the opportunity of sending sexy text messages to each other to spice up your lovelife; just don’t press “send to all” when replying!
If you or your partner are experiencing difficulties and would like to talk to someone confidentially, why not book an appointment with me to discuss how counselling can help. See my websites for details or email/call me direct.