I am speaking to everyone out there. Not just those out there who are years into their long-term relationship. While what you are about to read may have more immediate relevance to those already coupled up, those of you who aren’t can possibly use what is here to help you succeed in your future relationship.
In any relationship, there are 3 entities: 2 individuals and then the relationship itself. Before coupling up, people have their own, independent lives full of their own daily routines, habits, likes, and dislikes.
In comes some other person and, over time, each of their lives slowly shifts and changes to include each other in their daily routine. They may or may not share the same habits, likes, or dislikes, but certainly, if they are going to continue to include this other person in their life, they may have accommodated ( at least shifted) some areas of their life to incorporate any differences between them. If together long enough, they both have a new daily normal that they share together. They have a shared life.
Usually, when two people find one another and mutually want to share a life together, the initial decision to do so can be one of the most exhilarating and loving times in their relationship. This is usually the time in the relationship when they are the most focused on each other, the relationship, on spending time together, having fun, and being loving and affectionate.
As time continues on together, most couples cannot sustain this level of focus and attention on the relationship and each other, and they start to refocus some of their attention to other areas of their lives such as their career, friends, family, former hobbies, or if they have children, their own family.
While it is a natural progression for any couple who is together long enough to not be so infatuated with one another and focused on one another as they continue sharing their life together and their relationship continues, the question remains how some couples continue to stay connected and happy while others grow distant and disconnected.
While every couple is different and there cannot be one simple, blanket answer to explain what happens to each and every relationship over time, I do know that if anything is taken for granted and/or neglected, the outcome is not good. A relationship is no different.
To love someone is more than just a feeling. It really is an action. It is an everyday commitment to the other person and to the relationship. Love within your relationship will continue to grow as long as it is nurtured and continually given the attention and focus it deserves.
So how do you do this? REFLECTION IS KEY. What do I mean by this?
For those of you in a long-term relationship, I ask you: when is the last time you stopped and asked yourself questions like:
- Am I as happy as I have ever been in this relationship?
- If not, when was the last time I was the happiest?
- How is the relationship different now?
- How have I changed since this time?
- How has my partner?
Or, when is the last time you and your partner, together have sat down and had a conversation about:
- Openly and honestly discussing if you are both still happy in the relationship
- If you are both feeling individually fulfilled and happy
- If there are any resentments or things unsaid between the two of you that need to be discussed
- If you are both satisfied with the level of alone time, affection, appreciation, couple time and support that the relationship provides
- How you both see your relationship has changed over time
It is important to remember that the time and effort you took when you first met your partner was what helped form and solidify your relationship. Thinking back, reflecting on what brought the two of you together in the first place is important. Reminiscing about those early times usually brings about positive memories and feelings.
Oftentimes when couples do this, they start to remember that they used to be “that” couple that couldn’t keep their hands off each other, planned spontaneous weekends away or inside jokes that used to make them laugh until they cried. This can help foster discussion about how and why things changed over time and also spark conversation about how to try and bring back some of that old “spark”. There’s nothing quite like having a good reminder every now and again about the path you both have been on together and how you got where you are.