Is your relationship on the decline? Or has it become a bit stale in recent months?
Relationships are hard. Anyone who says otherwise is a damned liar, or so caught up in the early throes of infatuation that they’re frolicking off in la-la land.
We all have a boatload of our own issues to contend with as we muddle through life, but when it comes to a relationship, we also have to negotiate what’s happening with them, and how we can bridge the two in order to cultivate a loving, caring partnership with another human being.
We can never truly know what’s going on in another person’s mind, but when we care about another enough to be with them, we can try to do the best we can to communicate with them and understand them.
Or at least, we should.
If your relationship is going to hell, chances are that it’s because neither of you are putting in the effort necessary to keep things running smoothly. Below are just a few excuses that people spew forth when trying to explain away their relationship issues instead of taking an active role in tackling them.
We’re Too Busy To Spend Time Together
Uh, wtf? Sorry, no. No, this is absolute bull. When something is important to a person, they go out of their way to make time for it. That might be practicing guitar, attending a show, or working on a special project… and if your relationship means a thing to you, you’ll bloody well make it your priority.
If you have time to update your social media accounts and meet your friends for drinks, you have time to spend with your partner.
Are your schedules conflicting? Amend them. Are your extracurricular activities purposely planned in such a way that you won’t have time together? Then that’s a problem you should address, rather than just maintaining the status quo and thinking that your partnership will thrive despite your neglect.
Life’s responsibilities take up a lot of our time, but we have to MAKE time for those who mean the most to us. When you’re on your deathbed, you can be damned sure that you’ll regret not spending more time with the one you love a lot more than you’ll regret not winning enough pub quizzes, or catching up on various TV programs.
Find out what’s monopolizing all of your time, and prioritize. Hire a babysitter or get your in-laws to watch the kids once a week. Skip the idiotic movie marathon and go out for ice cream.
Just do something together, as soon as possible, before the spark is extinguished forever.
We Have Nothing To Talk About Anymore
Do you think that maybe you’d have things to talk about if you would put your damned phone down for five minutes so you could try to have a decent conversation with the person you claim to love?
There’s always something that you can talk about. If you don’t want to bore them with the drudgery of your work life, then bring up a topic that both of you have an interest in – there must have been some common ground that drew you together in the first place. What was it? What did you talk about when you were first starting to get to know one another? What caused you both to have fits of laughter? What topics made you feel connected?
Pick one of your shared interests, and replenish the source material. Go to a concert together, or a museum, or binge-watch all 15 seasons of Supernatural on Netflix or something.
Well, of course they’ve changed. So have you. It would be really concerning if people didn’t change over time; that would mean that they’ve stagnated. We all learn and grow and evolve, and you can be sure that you’re not the same person that your partner met either.
So, what was it about them that drew you to them in the first place? Is that still intact? Has their personality shifted to such an extent that they are literally a completely different person than they were when the two of you first set eyes on each other?
One of the main reasons why relationships fail is that people weren’t authentic with one another at the beginning. That instead of being who they actually are, they pretended to be the person that their partner wanted… and that charade can only be kept up for so long. If, however, you both know each other well and are fully honest with who you are, then that whole “changed” bit is something that needs to be examined in greater depth.
Are you no longer attracted to them because they’ve changed a great deal physically? That’s something that you should discuss with them, then. Has their personality shifted drastically? That could be a sign of something troubling them deeply – again, discuss it with them. You’d be amazed at what can be accomplished with open, honest communication.
There is, of course, the possibility that they really have just changed a great deal. We aren’t exactly the same today as we were a month, a year, or a decade ago. Life experiences shape and shift us in countless ways, and if your partner has been through some difficult or otherwise challenging situations, they could very well have changed enough that you don’t really recognize them anymore, let alone relate to them.
You might have hooked up with a fairly serious accountant who revelled in attending wine tastings and Mozart concerts and fallen head over heels in love with them. Yet, after their psychedelic Ayahuasca retreat in Peru, they’ve renamed themselves Rainbow Unicornpants and now lead patchouli-drenched drum circles (if this sounds foreign to you, let’s just say they changed… a LOT).
In any case, talk to them. Discuss your respective changes and see if there’s a way to negotiate those changes together before you decide to veer off on diverging roads.
At least now you won’t have the “nothing to talk about” excuse!
More essential relationship reading (article continues below):
Anyone who has ever tended a fire knows that it needs to be fed in order to keep burning; you can’t neglect it and expect it to stay aglow. Even the brightest, hottest bonfire will die out unless it is nurtured – sometimes with kindling, sometimes with logs – and relationships work the exact same way.
Remember at the beginning of your courtship, when you did sweet things for one another and couldn’t bear to be apart for long? When you ached to be together, and went out of your way to do wonderful things to make each other’s hearts glow?
That’s what you need to rekindle.
Complacency is one of the top reasons why relationships go to hell. Once couples feel secure that they have “won” one another, they stop putting in the same effort that they did at the beginning, taking advantage of the fact that they have the object of affection, so there’s no need to try anymore. Perhaps both parties allow this to happen, or it could be a more one-sided affair. Ask yourself which it is.
When was the last time you surprised your partner with an impromptu picnic, even if it’s in a fort in the living room after the kids have gone to bed?
Have you bought them flowers lately just because they’re wonderful, instead of feeling obliged to do so because it’s their birthday or whatnot and if you don’t, there will be hell to pay?
Think about the reasons why you fell in love with them to begin with, and ask yourself if the person you love is worth a little bit of effort to remind them of how important they are to you.
No matter what the issue is, you can sort out pretty much anything by talking to your partner, openly and honestly. After all, if you can’t talk to the one you love, who can you talk to? Make the time, and communicate; you just might be amazed at the positive change that can happen by doing so.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.