Remember when you first started your relationship and you wanted to know everything about your new love?
Verging on interrogation, you were intent on knowing every detail – their hopes, their dreams, their favourite breakfast cereal. In those early days you can’t get enough of each other, talking for hours and delving into each other’s soul.
Then things change. You get comfortable. You know each other’s likes and dislikes, bad habits and endearing traits. You can almost recite their family history and their personal stories verbatim, like the time they fell out of the tree and broke their arm when they were 6. The learning stage is over and you start to take each other’s presence for granted.
Throw a couple of kids, work, family commitments and financial pressures into the mix; then things change again. You might pass like ships in the night. Or simply co-exist while trying to keep your heads above the chaos. You are drowning under mental load. Communication with your partner is limited to what bills are due and whose turn it is to take the kids to soccer practice.
Here’s where a lot of couples run into trouble. When we stop communicating on a meaningful level, things go pear-shaped. When either party feels under-appreciated, undervalued or misunderstood, resentment builds and the gap in communication grows.
It happens so easily, without us even realising, and it is frighteningly common. Communication problems are cited as one of the main reasons long-term relationships fail. That connection that once was so strong can get strained to breaking point.
But how do you stop it from happening? With lives full of competing priorities, it can be hard to prioritise each other.
But that’s what needs to be done. The relationship needs to be a priority for both of you. Date nights, weekends away or just going for a walk around the block together can help facilitate that reconnection.
There are lots articles about how to reconnect with your partner and to rebuild intimacy (not just the sexual kind). I love this idea of asking specific questions of each other that prompt a thought out, meaningful answer.
Rather than asking “What are you thinking?” or “How do you feel?” asking your partner something like “What would you like me to know about your life?” will garner a more insightful response. Your partner will feel heard and valued, and you may learn something new about them – just like the early days!
Because we all change, have our own experiences and grow as individuals. We don’t spend every minute of the day with our partner, yet often make do with “Fine” when they ask “How was your day?” Meanwhile, the distance between us grows. We start to lose each other, not knowing what the other person is going through because we are so caught up in the business of life.
But here’s the clincher – ensuring the connection with our partner stays strong is one of the things that will help reduce conflict, stress and tension in our lives! An intimate relationship characterised by reciprocal respect and appreciation is what we all crave. So it makes sense to keep your relationship at the top of your priority list.