As the late irreverent humorist Irma Bombeck would have said, “You know what keeps us all going in life? It’s those tiny moments of intention that we uphold with inspiring routines and informed choices. Folks, we got to keep learning and growing.” The key to our well being is to never stop seeking knowledge and expanding our horizons. After all, life is a wild ride and we to have keep up if we want to make the most of it. So grab the bull by the horns Bombeck-style and embrace each moment with intention and purpose! This is especially true in our relationships with our selves and our significant others.
Every relationship has its own nuances, and it’s a myth that a successful partnering has a specific set of criteria to make it work. It’s vital to not develop a normative view of the perfect relationship versus an irreparable one. Your glaring red flag might not be a deal-breaker to another. The exception is abuse, which should be taken seriously so let’s remove the shame and comparison from the conversation upfront. However, there are common issues that, if constant, can potentially sever intimate bonds over time.
Some of those obstacles are listed below along with ways to overcome them.
- Trouble communicating. You’ve heard it all before. Healthy communication is non-negotiable for a successful relationship. In fact, a lack of communication can sneakily ruin relationships over time. Clearly, communication issues mean different things for different couples. There are many reasons why we don’t communicate well. One is that we are often more invested in what we need to say than in what we need to listen to and hear. We often talk without paying attention to how the other is registering what we are saying. So, take a minute to check in with your partner before striking up a conversation: What is the other person trying to tell you, perhaps with no words at all but with facial expressions and body language? Another layer to the issue is expectation. If you feel that partner basically devalues what you have to say, then all avenues of your communication with them will suffer, including how you relate in the bedroom. Finally, there is confirmation bias. We tend to hear whatever reinforces our pre-existing beliefs rather than pay attention to change. So often one partner will say something that triggers the other, and the two go back and forth in a feedback loop of conflicting assumptions instead of listening to each other. Nonetheless try to actually not look for what you already are used to seeing or hearing. See if you can hear something else, then communication will likely open back up.
- Growing Apart. In longterm relationships, we can often just grow apart. But what does this actually mean? Couples need not have identical interests and passions; rather, they simply must share in each other’s excitement with genuine interest and curiosity. One female client said, “It’s not that I’m keen on this and he’s not. It’s just when I try to engage him in whatever I’m really into, he seems to lose interest in me. Day after day after day, I start to feel like, ‘Whether I’m here or not, what difference does it make? Do I even exist for you?'” Once you sense that the other person barely notices when you enter the house, the disconnection factor in your relationship has become deadly.
- Losing The Spark. So, how do you keep the spark alive in a longterm relationship? There is no clear-cut, answer other than intimate relationships require give and take. To wit, you need cozy, comfortable, familiar tasks to solidify the foundation, but you also need adventures, healthy risks, and crossing thresholds to keep the eroticism alive. Play, novelty and curiosity comprise the whole other dimension of life not about management. Family life wants consistency and the same goes for maintaining the spark. Curiosity differs for every couple: For one pair, perhaps a Caribbean cruise sets your heart aflutter; for another, it’s a long, challenging mountain hike ; for others, it’s reading certain books together, followed by thought-provoking talks. Whatever it is, it involves an enthusiastic exploration. Like precocious young children, we grow and evolve by exploring both our our internal and external worlds.
In conclusion, while relationship waters can be tough to navigate, they are ultimately possible to overcome with effort and commitment. Like plants, relationships require attention and nurturing to thrive. By acknowledging the issues, communicating effectively, and taking steps to work through them, couples can not only resolve their problems but also strengthen their bond. With patience, understanding, and a willingness to learn and grow together, any relationship can flourish and stand the test of time.
So, don’t give up on your relationship, instead invest in it, and watch it bloom into something magnificent.