I love my wife so much, I donít want a divorce, but I donít think she loves me. What do you do when the other isnít feeling the same way as you? Why do people fall out of love? Is there any way to resurrect it?
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things I find as a relationship expert is the fact that so many couples go into marriage either with the wrong expectations or certainly not really knowing what to expect in a long-term commitment. The result is that they end up becoming thrown by situations that are, in fact, quite normal.
One typical phenomenon is that a partnership must be viewed as a living, breathing entity; as such, there are going to be highs and lows. There are going to be times that you feel really close to your spouse and other times where you question what you ever saw in him or her.
Iím reminded of a time I was speaking to a client who was concerned that she wasnít "feeling the love." I shared with her the first time I fell out of love with my husband and how alarming it was. She smiled and said, "Nobody ever tells you that!"
Couples do drift. Very often, itís because they become lax in paying attention to their relationship. After all, thereís so much else to attend to especially when youíve added kids to the mix. Itís like life gets in the way. The truth is that, especially in todayís world, there is a great deal of stress.
A strong partnership can tolerate when one or both partners have to place their attention on some other priority, but you can only do this for so long. In order for a relationship to thrive, it must be nurtured and fed, just like a plant needs water and sunlight. If you put your relationship on a back burner constantly, there will be no relationship to come back to.
Turning Things Around
So, with all the craziness and demands on you, how do you do this? The truth is that it really doesnít take a lot. More and more of the literature about successful relationships talk about helping couples feel attached to one another. Attachment is about letting your mate know that he or she matters. Itís a basic need that each person has.
If you think back to the kinds of things you did when you were first starting to date, it was those very things that made you feel really special, that made you feel like you mattered so much. The behaviors included things that let each other know you were thinking of one another. There is absolutely no reason you canít do these things again. They are the quickest way to resurrect the old feelings of the "honeymoon phase."
Here are a couple of ideas to get you going:
1. Make contact with each other throughout the day via a call, a text message, or e-mail to say something positive to your spouse.
2. Eat dinner together and when you do, donít watch TV, turn off the cell phone and donít answer any other calls during this time with one another.
3. When you know your mate has an important appointment, letís say with a doctor, make a note of it in your calendar or Blackberry and remember to ask how it went.
4. Start the day with a hug; end it with an embrace also.
5. If the mirror gets steamed up from the shower, leave an "I love you" message.
(By the way, if you go to my website, www.ChoiceRelationships.com, thereís a free program you can sign up for that sends you a day-by-day plan, lasting three weeks. By the end of the program, your relationship will be back on track. Also, I co-authored Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make It Last, a self-help book that will help to revitalize a stale relationship.)
A final suggestion to ensure that your relationship keeps on track is to regularly check-in with your spouse. After all, you make sure your car is properly maintained. All this really entails is asking your "other half" how he or she feels things are going and if there are things that could be improved. When you know you have this tool in place, things donít build up.
Relationships are vital to your happiness. Once you know how to really make them come to life, they will provide even greater happiness.
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last." You can sign up for her free monthly newsletter with relationship tips at www.ChoiceRelationships.com