What Keeps a Relationship Together?
Communication, Sex, and Children are the three areas that affect the bond between a couple.
This suggests that all three areas are important for sustaining the relationship, and yet they can also be the source of so much unhappiness.
Communication: This is always a challenge – to be understood by someone else and to be able to say what you mean, to trust another person and risk the potential hurt, rejection, and misunderstanding that is always a possibility when we risk intimacy.
While initially physical attraction is really important for getting a couple together, it is not enough to sustain the relationship in the long term.
Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying “When entering into a marriage one ought to ask oneself; do you believe you are going to enjoy talking with this woman up into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory, but most of the time you are together will be devoted to conversation.”
So it is important to know if you can communicate. When the communication does not go well you may notice an increase in friction and arguments. Sometimes there are more subtle effects – no arguments, but instead there is a distance between you. People can withdraw when they are not understood leading to what is termed “silent divorce”. This is when you are living together still, but there is a loss of aliveness in the relationship – you are silent, you don’t have anything to say to each other, and you feel disappointed in the other person, or resentful of them. If this isn’t addressed the relationship will be unsatisfying, and eventually one or other partner will say “there was nothing between us anymore”.
Sex and Intimacy are closely linked together. If your sex life has dwindled there may be a number of causes including lack of time for each other, lack of closeness in the relationship, or feeling down or depressed. A therapist can help you untangle your feelings if this area is not going well.
Children: Being parents together can be wonderful, but for each of you it will bring back feelings from your own childhood and you may clash with your partner about how to raise your children. This can be a major source of conflict, and not always easy to sort out together because of the powerful feelings re-evoked from earlier in your life.
It is never too late to address the difficulties in any of these three major areas, and talking with someone call help to work out what you want, and how to change.