Most couples that come to see me are discouraged, disconnected and disillusioned with their relationship. People tell me that they need help with communication, they need help with conflict management and they need help connecting with their partner. It is awful to feel lonely, even worse to feel lonely within a relationship. People have plenty of topics with which to complain; money, sex, job worries, kids, time constraints, to name a few.
Couples counselors are taught to look at relationships in a circular systemic manner of interactions rather than simple cause and effect. There can be what seems like an endless cycle of reaction, which creates more reaction and still another reaction. For instance, one partner may be crabby and angry at the other partner’s long workdays and criticism. At the same time, the second partner’s absences and critical tone result from the moodiness and withdrawal of the first partner. Welcome to the proverbial merry-go-round of relationship conflict!
According to researchers all couples fight and even the happiest marriages are not conflict-free. It isn’t that they are unhappy but what they do about the dissatisfaction that makes the difference between a satisfied relationship and an unsatisfied one.
I see that couples are greatly touched by what their partners say, but it seems to me that they even more affected by what their partners do. So I challenge each of you to get off the merry-go-round of interaction and do something completely different. This may not be a substitute for counseling but it could be a start.
If you want more sex, then dress up a little to get in the mood, perhaps send your partner a romantic text message alluding to what might happen later. Include some romance in your life, compliment your partner, give a hug, or a little handholding. People complain that sex used to be easy when they were first dating. It may have seemed really easy back then when you were dating, but remember that you spent time, thinking and planning for that special evening. You might have cooked a favorite meal, you may have picked out some clothes, or maybe you made a fire in the fireplace. You might have popped a mint in your mouth before you got together. What makes you think that sex will automatically happen now, without the same advance preparation?
Or, if your honey is working too much for your liking, how about asking what it is about work that is so appealing? Maybe your partner is getting kudos for a job well done there, but not at home. Perhaps you will need to give out some compliments for what he/she is doing at home.
Why not experiment with something new? You really have nothing to lose, except being stuck. You might even just be able to get that off the merry-go-road. There are many other rides in the park. How about the teeter-totter?