Kelsey spends a lot of time wondering what happened. There was that wedding — that oh so beautiful dress and the reception venue people still mention nearly a decade later. It was magical, and she can’t remember a time she felt better.
Somehow, life shrunk the magic into bits of pixie dust as those long looks into each other’s eyes give way to thinly veiled arguments about housework neither of you wants to do. There’s just not enough money in the checkbook, the bathroom sink is impossibly filthy, the dog needs to go out (again), and nobody can afford to take another day off work to watch over whatever new plague your little one brought home from daycare.
Instead of being with the person who once captivated your thoughts, you’ve found yourself with an often-annoying roommate. You can’t think of the last time you held hands or even kissed, much less shared a romantic, enjoyable evening for just the two of you. The mundane replaced the magical and the only energy you reserve for each other is the holidays and times with friends that require that smile and occasional dress-up.
Kelsey’s not alone. Many relationships and marriages that began passionately fade when confronted with our daily lives and the people we really are. But that doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed. If you want to get a sense of how you can restore balance and maybe even add some spark back to your relationship, start by honestly answering these eight important questions.
Am I taking care of myself?
If you don’t take care of your own body, mind, and spirit, you’re less able to nurture your relationship and more likely to resent it. This includes how you eat, when you exercise, making sleep a priority, and taking measures to strengthen your mental and spiritual health. Without bringing the best version of you to the relationship, the outcome will most definitely be less than ideal. So start with yourself. You are so worth the investment, as is your relationship.
Am I taking responsibility only for me?
Own only what you think and do, and let your partner do the same. Sometimes we spend our energy on the “if only” and the “why aren’t they” instead of owning our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors. We can really only manage ourselves, and the sooner we begin to focus on what we can control (which doesn’t include our spouse) the better chance we’ll have at experiencing personal fulfillment.
Am I bringing emotional safety to the relationship?
Over time, we tend to forget about gratitude, curiosity, and forgiveness, and they get replaced with expectations, judgment, and resentment. Without curiosity and forgiveness, the emotional safety of the relationship can’t be present, and this is a breeding ground for stale or even contemptuous communication… quite the opposite of what we really want.
Am I committed to win-win strategies?
When there’s a conflict – and let’s face it, conflict will come — are you committed to finding strategies that are a win for both of you or are you more interested in just getting your way? If we come to the table expecting to win as a team, it’s much easier to develop ways to keep the relationship alive and well. No one wants to be in a relationship where they feel like they’re set up to lose.
Am I practicing the Golden Rule?
Are you speaking to (and about) your spouse as you wish they would do to (and about) you? How we speak about those we love will most definitely impact the level of intimacy and enjoyment we feel when we are with them.
Is our marriage truly my priority?
If your relationship takes a back seat to your job, your hobbies, your kids, your family, your friends, or anything else, it’s not likely to be full of magical moments. Marriage takes the kind of investment you put into each other early on. Creating opportunities for fun, trying new activities, and encouraging new sights is a way to keep freshness in the marriage. The comfort and steadiness of the “usual” place is great but be sure to mix it in with something new.
Am I my partner’s biggest cheerleader?
We all need people in our corner at the end of a long day and in a world where opinions abound and offenses run rampant and there’s nothing quite like hearing, “I got you,” “I believe in you,” and “you can do it” from the person closest to you. Again, we can’t control what they say to us – but we certainly can bring encouragement to our spouse. It’s desperately needed these days!
Am I focused on calling out their best or seeing their worst?
Do you spend more time calling out the best in them or telling them what they do wrong? Taking time to notice the little things – and being intentional about verbalizing those things — are like fresh water to the soul. How often do we call out those traits we fell in love with them for? When was the last time you said, “I love so much that you are…” Try it today.
Having trouble answering “yes”? Care to Change is here to provide you with practical solutions for positive change that we all long for. Call us at 317-431-9979, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.