Let's face it, marriage can be hard. You look back on your wedding day as the happiest day of your life but now you find it hard to reconcile with the feelings you now have about marriage and even your spouse. Passion may have started to dwindle and your busy lives may have started to make you drift apart emotionally and sexually. Some days you start to think you just are not happy anymore and it is too late to do anything, but there is good news; it is never too late to reignite that spark and restore happiness in your marriage. Marriage takes work, and happiness is not beyond your reach; couples therapy can help.
Excitement in a Marriage May Dwindle
Over time, that excitement that you first felt in your relationship starts to dwindle. It's normal for this to happen. But, as these feelings decline, feelings of isolation, resentment, and even hostility can start to take over. You may not even realize what this is happening but as it gradually becomes the norm in your relationship, it can be dangerous for the survival of your marriage. You see, as you become more familiar with your partner and you learn their habits, likes, and dislikes. That familiarity leads to a lack of interest and even complacency. Those little quirks that you used to think were cute, become downright annoying over time. Without even realizing it, you begin to become angry when you see these quirks are habits.
Dr. Steven Stosny writes in Psychology Today that some of these feelings come from a decline in interest and that when that interest declines at a different rate between partners, one partner may feel rejected which leads to further feelings of shame and isolation. These feelings gradually build into blame and resentment which may "choke the life out of the relationship". To counter this, Dr. Stosny talks about increasing compassion and connection by focusing less on how you feel and more on how your partner feels. When you start to realize that your feelings of loneliness and resentment may be felt equally by your partner, you can start to take steps to reconnect.
Tips to Improve Your Marriage
If this sounds like where you are in your relationship, you may be wondering where to even start. How do you begin creating more connection? It requires effort and practice, but consider starting with these tips:
- Take the initiative. Start a conversation about something other than who will buy the milk. Ask for their opinion or point of view on something and really listen to their response.
- Create a shared experience. Suggest doing something together that requires you to interact. Take a walk, enroll in a class or even start a hobby together.
- Practice taking their perspective. Stop assuming you know what your partner is thinking and instead, take some time to really consider how they feel. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand how your actions affect them.
Couples therapy is an effective place to start if you feel unsure about how to take these next steps to reconnect. During couples therapy, I can give you tools to use when the negative feelings start to take over. You can learn how to recognize these feelings and start to see your partner's point of view. Exercises that help increase your compassion and connection by introducing novelty and improving your listening skills can further increase your connection. As you practice being connected, those feeling of intimacy and romance start to increase.
Get Started with Couples Therapy
It may be as simple as remembering to say thank you for the little things, watching the words you use when you speak to your spouse or remembering to tell your partner you still find them attractive but no one should ever assume their marriage or relationship is over just because they experience the normal ebb and flow of a relationship. I can help you reignite the spark and restore happiness in your marriage. Contact me to learn more.