It is easy to get swept up in the familiar routine of life. The daily grind of jobs, commuting, family, children, activities, meals, and chores can be overwhelming at first, but we gradually settle in and it all begins to feel comfortable after a while. Generally, comfort is not a bad thing. We should feel at ease around our spouses and partners, able to relax and enjoy the down time.
Troubles can surface, though, when we become so comfortable in our connection that we fail to see the growth and change in ourselves and in our partners. While you have built a life together, you have also changed as individuals.
People develop new interests over time, encounter new people, and engage in new experiences.
If you have been in a relationship for a long time, it is easy to forget how critical that “getting to know you” phase was. You likely decided to keep dating or eventually get married because you genuinely liked your partner and chose to commit to them. However, you are not the same people you once were. You are older, likely wiser, and your lives have become much more nuanced. It is important to explore those changes in order to reestablish your connection and strengthen your bonds.
Here are some practical ways for you to strengthen your relationship or marriage, and give things a kickstart when you have fallen into a routine:
Start Dating Again
This may sound a little odd, but think back to when your relationship was new. You were constantly discovering details about each other, finding reasons to connect, similarities and interesting differences. As we mentioned before, years later, you may feel that seeing your partner or spouse every day has prevented you from seeing their growth.
Dating is intentional, and this discovery phase is most effective when you are alone, without children, friends, and coworkers. Schedule a recurring “date night” and commit to keeping it. Hire a babysitter, skip work obligations, let the chores slide a bit. This time should be special, separate, and unique – but it doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy. A quiet night at the movie theater, a walk in your favorite park, a dinner, or a weekend getaway, the important thing is to make the time meaningful. Talk and enjoy each other’s company.
At some point in a marriage or a long relationship, we stop asking questions. We sometimes feel like we know everything we could possibly know about our partners. The truth is that you likely don’t know it all! Knowing how their day went, how work has been, and how they take their coffee should never be the end of the conversation.
Keep the conversation going, as people evolve over time. Ask about what they have been reading, what their favorite foods are, what they dream about, or what they think the future holds. Even big picture topics can get lost in the minutiae of daily life. Ask questions, respond honestly, and challenge each other to keep doing this regularly.
Jot Things Down
Even if you write things down for your eyes only, this can be a powerful reminder of all the “little things” that your spouse or partner does for you that you forget about when you are busy. A lack of connection can lead to resentment, and resentment can quickly become overpowering and dangerous. If you sit around wondering when the last time your partner something nice for you was, chances are that you will dwell on it and lash out in unexpected ways.
Keep a journal, diary, or even a notepad nearby and jot down anything about your life that makes you happy, things your partner does for you that show they care, kind words and compliments. When one of you is fixated on the other’s lack of consideration, you can miss the little things – the time he or she packed your lunch, helped out more than usual, or let you pick the Netflix show. Writing these seemingly insignificant items down can make a big impact and help you see that your relationship is more solid than you think.
See a Therapist Together
Marriage counseling, couples counseling, and therapy are not signals that you are in trouble! Sitting down in a relaxed setting with a counselor or therapist and your partner can be invigorating for any relationship. Both of you have committed to spending this time together, you have agreed to be open and honest, and you are both seeking advice from someone who can help you communicate and reconnect.
Susan Block, LMFT helps couples engage, find intimacy, and increase their friendship. In a warm and judgment-free setting, it can be much easier to develop a dialogue. She can help facilitate the conversation, providing research-based tools and techniques during your sessions. Whether you are facing the common issue of being in a “rut”, or you are dealing with more complex issues such as grief or infidelity, Susan Block offers unmatched expertise and would love to help you.
To learn more about marriage counseling, couples counseling, pre-marital counseling, and other therapy services available, visit our site: https://coralspringscounselingcenter.com/, or call 954-675-1936 for a free consultation or to schedule a session.
Susan Block is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in marriage, family and individual therapy. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University in 1997 and completed her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2004. Also an active member of The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Susan Block offers Couples Counseling in South Florida, as well as online therapy throughout the state. Click on the link to find out more: https://coralspringscounselingcenter.com/counseling-specialties/online-therapy/