By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW
Every day in my office I hear someone say something like, “I love you but I’m not in love with you anymore.” This often leads to the consideration of ending a relationship. Some people choose to have affairs (emotional or physical), while others simply ‘check-out’ emotionally from the relationship. If you are married, and especially if you have children, you owe it to your kids to do everything in your power before you walk away. When, and only when, you can say to yourself that you have tried everything you can to make your relationship work; and you are still unhappy, then walk away… as gracefully as possible. But, many people quit too soon. You probably don’t want to tell your kids one day that you didn’t try your hardest to make the marriage work. So, here are some things you can do immediately to begin to turn things around.
1. Remind yourself why you chose your partner. Write down at least ten traits you were attracted to in him/her.
2. Thank your partner for something he or she has done that you really appreciate, even if you are angry and apathetic in the relationship. It is at the times when you can’t think of anything that you appreciate about him or her, when you really need to stretch yourself and revisit his or her strengths. Just because you are upset with your partner does not mean the attributes you liked or loved at one time have disappeared.
3. Ask your partner to go on a date with you…even if you don’t want to go. Oftentimes, when couples change the environment they are in, their moods change too. This will give you both an opportunity to reconnect with each other.
4. Think about a time when you felt most loved by your spouse. What was happening at that time that allowed you to feel that way? What did he or she do to help you feel loved? What was different then from now? The answers to these questions will help you identify what needs attention.
5. Look at yourself. Have you let resentment build over the years? If so, begin to consider forgiveness. This does not mean that anything you are upset about is to be let go completely; but how are you benefitting from holding onto it? Look at yourself again. Are you keeping up your end of the relationship? Are you giving your spouse what he or she needs to feel loved? Ask him or her when he/she felt most loved by you. Create a similar experience today. All of these tips are easy to do when you are happy and getting your needs met. It is when your relationship is at its most challenging moments when you need to implement these tips the most. The more often you do any of the above, the more you and your partner will benefit… And most importantly, the more your kids will benefit!
These five simple tips will begin to shift your perspective about your marriage. This is not to suggest that ending your relationship is still not an option, but only when you can honestly say you have done everything to at least try to make it work. If you need assistance with any of this, feel free to reach out. Many couples have benefited from my Marital Boot Camp… a quicker, easier way to make your marriage work (and much less financially and emotionally costly than a divorce.) See my web site for more information….staceyrose.com