I’ve been in a relationship for over a decade.
We got married young. Went to university after, moved in with others, got depressed, gained weight and had nothing in common anymore. Although these made it difficult, the real issues were that we didn’t:
- Set boundaries; or
- know how to recognise how we felt
And regrettably we focused on what was wrong instead of:
- What was right with us
- What we loved about each other; and
- How to rebuild the connection
Then, the marriage ended suddenly.
For a short while!
When it ended, I focused on my wellbeing. I did things I missed and resented him for. Whilst exploring boundaries, I rebuilt my self-esteem and rediscovered my identity. I spent four months ‘waiting’ for my partner to say he wanted me back, but he couldn’t see how we would love each other again; so I ended it. And he changed his mind! Everyone I knew, including him was certain the relationship was over – for good. But we feel more connected now than we have in years!
I signed up to the colleges ‘building healthy relationships’ course because I wanted all relationships to be better and I wanted to learn how to connect in meaningful ways. The core tips I learned gave me enough self-compassion and knowledge to understand a) that it was OK if things ended, and b) if I didn’t want it to end, there were things I could do.
This then drove me to research how to rebuild my marriage; and I downloaded ‘the marriage fitness’ plan. I learned exactly what to do and what not to do to rebuild the connection.
The transformation has been amazing!
I knew my partner wouldn’t be interested; but I was set on it, for this relationship, or (if I didn’t work) the next one. Amazingly, when I started to adopt its principles, my partner reciprocated. And, within months, we both felt more loved than we had in years.
How? We focused less on the issues, and more on what we could do. Now, we share more, we talk more, we play more, we cuddle more and best of all we understand each other more. I used to feel rejected when my partner would do something that didn’t include me. Now, we understand each other’s needs and do things like exercise /days out every other weekend. This way, we both get ‘me time’ as well as ‘we time’ – without feeling guilty or neglected.
Some of the other tips included:
- Focus on giving first. You’ll feel good and they’ll give back.
- Touch and talk in loving ways, multiple times a day
- Be kind, mindful and show gratitude
- At a minimum, show you support their interests, even if it’s not for you.
- Date and have weekends away – stay close and make it hassle free to get the most out of the time together
- Communicate and connect by:
- Always greeting them when you / they come home
- If they ask for your help, stop and help them ASAP
- Focus less on logistics (once a week) and focus on fun conversations instead
- Have an ‘intimacy interview’ once a year, where you openly and non-judgementally discuss your/your partner’s, hopes, dreams and needs
- Then from all that new knowledge, explore all the ways that you can ‘give’ them what they need.
My final words to anyone struggling with a romantic relationship are that no one is perfect; but you don’t have to accept negativity either. Judge it and if you want to make it work; don’t give up! You might just be a few steps away from feeling like you’re back in that honeymoon period all over again – permanently!