Let’s start by acknowledging that all long term relationships will have their rocky moments. Watching elderly couples on tv sitting side by side and celebrating 50 plus years of ‘happy marriage’ needs close examination.
When they cheerfully state that they’ve ‘had their ups and downs’ it’s unlikely that they are remembering an amusing tiff over the tv remote back in the day.
Long term relationships will have seriously jittery times. Life deals us unexpected events and we will all go through some dramatic highs and lows as well as periods of flatness and resentments.
At the Getting To Know You start of relationships it can seem that we never stop talking to each other. There is so much curiosity and so much mutual interest that it can feel as if the closeness is bulletproof.
Interestingly, the two main reasons that bring couples to counselling, are often a breakdown in communication or trying to cope after an affair.
How likely then is it that these are linked….
If we can’t talk to each other, it leaves a vacancy and makes it easy to find someone else who seems to take a real interest in us.
Communication in any relationship is vital. And it’s so easy to take each other for granted.
Set aside time to talk about what each person wants. Ask questions and find the curiosity that has been lost. We can forget the sense of importance that was set up at the start of a relationship, so don’t allow this validation to just be found in work, families and friends.
It’s not the grass on the other side that’s greener, it’s the grass that gets attention that will flourish.
Be playful within the relationship. People are inclined to confuse childish with childlike. Having fun and a bit of silliness will keep things fresh. Age doesn’t have to be a slide into predictability and boredom. Surprise each other sometimes with a treat, an unexpected experience. This is good barrier against one person finding too much fun and attention elsewhere.
Have a relationship M.O.T every so often.
Take a little time out to get an overview. Discuss petty resentments in a non-accusatory way. Remind each other what you really value in the relationship. And remember to articulate the positives. Compliments flow so easily in the romantic early days. Keep that link to the past.
If at all possible take a day, night, weekend away. No friends or hobbies to fill the time, just a few hours to concentrate on each other. Always keep shared goals and dreams in mind. And keep talking about your hopes and fears.
Don’t neglect your physical closeness. Sex is a great way to communicate. Most relationships will hit patches of overwork and tiredness that can make sex feel like a chore.
But don’t let this become habitual as it can start causing the tiny cracks between couples which become draughty chasms.
Sex then becomes a no-go area even for conversation. If intimacy gets lost it becomes extremely tempting to notice that it can be found elsewhere.
Non-sexual contact is vital too. A hug, a kiss and a stroke especially at an unexpected moment can create closeness.
Acknowledge that there will be others that attract us. We are human and sometimes vulnerable.
But, we also know and can recognise when this starts. Encourage these flirtations and that way danger lies.
It can feel painful to avoid the ‘accidental’ times when you may be alone with someone who ignites emotions that seem buried in your own couple relationship.
Remember you have a choice, maybe not over how you feel when drawn to another, but there is a pivotal choice over what you do with those feelings. It can be hard to resist the heady rush of feeling a mutual attraction to another, but that’s the decisive moment.
Your choice. Always.
This song was written in the aftermath of a destructive long forgotten affair
Wanting to not cheat in these circumstances is a tough call. Take the need for validation and romantic love and bring it back to breathe some of the energy and spice into your tired partnership. The results may surprise you.