Do I love them? A key relationship issue
Relationship issues come in many forms. Counsellors throughout the UK will tell you that some of the key reasons taking people to relationship counselling are; being hurt by their partner; infidelity; arguments etc. Yet, most couples coming to relationship counselling will also describe a second problem that one or both feels very strongly.
There is a sense of growing apart, that they are unappreciated by their partner. Perhaps they are taken for granted or no longer admired. Perhaps the situation has become as serious as to one or both partners questioning whether they love each other anymore.
Love seems to have a simple path, although the direction and travel may be difficult. At first, our partner is highly desirable. Our hormones are driving our lust to be with them. This attraction stage is very driven by brain chemistry and as this begins to calm and we enter an attachment stage where we bond and enjoy the strength that we can enjoy from each other. This is the basis for long term relationships that helps with family life. Beyond that is the longer term deep love, often seen with older couples who have been together a long time. It is a deep relationship that exists between the two and nourishes both partners.
If you find yourself questioning your relationship, clearly something has come along to throw you off the path. If you are to re-kindle the fire of your relationship, there first and most obvious thing is to talk to your partner. There is a need to be vulnerable and to describe how you (and they) are feeling about the relationship. This includes addressing any big problems such as infidelity. There needs to be a shared commitment to improve and to change. It is unlikely to succeed if one partner is no longer committed to the relationship. This open and honest communication is key to making the relationship work in the long term.
Perhaps you feel that your relationship has become serious and predictable. Perhaps all you feel you discuss is money, your job, the children etc. It can feel that the relationship has become stale. This is especially true if you are tired and you stop working to build the relationship through shared experiences or intimacy or compliments. You need to start spending time on your relationship and while of course some of that will be the mundane you also need to do things to celebrate your relationship. Perhaps you could plan to do something each week, something new. Perhaps the excitement could be in the spontaneity or perhaps planning together. The goal is to go out have new shared experiences and use the time to re-connect. The activity need not cost money; perhaps a walk each evening, a visit to a gallery or a new hobby such as walking. The activity is the vehicle for reconnecting.
Keeping the dialogue going is important; rather than bottling up important feelings about your relationship, find ways in which you can share with each other, so that each of you can have support and address some of your needs. It is, however, unlikely that a relationship can offer support for all of your needs, so even as you are re-building your relationship you need to look at any issues that you might have yourself, you need to find time for yourself and re-connect. They say that absence makes the heart grow stronger, and while that may or may not be true, time apart helps us to know ourselves and be that person, so that we have all those capabilities and talents to bring to the relationship, better able to express who we are and what we would like from the relationship.
This can be a difficult process, especially in the beginning. Many couples prefer having a counsellor, a relationship expert, to offer perspective and help guide them along the path. However, with hard work and focus and commitment from the couple anything can be achieved.