“What then kills love? Only this: neglect. Not to see you when you stand before me. Not to think of you in the little things.” -- Jeanette Winterson
Maintaining healthy relationships requires effort, and it is easy to get distracted. Partners take one another for granted or get lazy – spending too much time at the office, or in front of the TV. Or they develop an unspoken agreement to avoid conflict and don’t pay attention to the slow accumulation of disappointments and resentments. Or routines become ruts, and the fun and sparkle slip away.
Fight complacency- Talk to each other about what’s going on in your life together. Are you happy? Are there nagging complaints or things you would like to change? Someone said, “Every criticism is really an unexpressed request.” If you find yourself feeling judgmental or fault-finding, notice if you have needs that aren’t getting met.
How’s your romantic life? Without keeping a relationship at least a little juicy, lovers can turn into glorified roommates.
- Try something new- Change your routine a bit, even if you're resistant. Instead of watching television after dinner, go for a walk. Find a new activity to enjoy together.
- Make a date- Many successful couples have "date nights," evenings where nothing is allowed to intrude on the specialness of time with one another. It breaks up the week, and it helps to rekindle the idea that being together is special.
- Schedule spontaneity- A surprising number of couples value doing something off the cuff as the highest form of enjoyment. Maybe they learned that when they were in school. You're probably busier now. There's nothing wrong with penciling in time together.
- Have enough fun- It is difficult to have too much fun together. Fun is the fuel that relationships run on.
And if there are problems that go beyond your ability to resolve them yourselves, don’t put off getting professional help. Too often, couples counseling becomes a last resort to save a floundering relationship, rather than the sort of consultation that can resolve problems early and make life better.
John Ballew is a licensed professional counselor and has been in private practice in Midtown for 25 years. For more, see his website at www.bodymindsoul.org.