It is all too common to have a couple come into their first sessions completely amazed as to why they are there. I know that sounds weird. After all, they had to make an appointment, fill out paperwork, and drive to my office. However, I often hear the story about how things were going so well. Then, all of a sudden, it changed. They started fighting more. Intimacy decreased. Irritability set in. Now, they realize that something has to change or the relationship isn’t going to make it.
First of all, there is no such thing as “all of a sudden” in a relationship. Sure, things may surprise us, but it is often because we are oblivious to the signs; but make no mistake, the signs are there. One of the more common reasons for this is that when a relationship begins, the couple gets so wrapped up in each other, that they forget to take time for themselves and continue their own personal growth and interests outside of the relationship. Perhaps the following can help you avoid this in your relationship.
Don’t be afraid to do your own thing.
This might seem silly, but we often (albeit incorrectly) like to apply meaning to our thoughts and actions. For example, if a guy wants to forego watching “This Is Us” on Netflix with his partner, and spend an evening out with his friends, then that must mean he prefers the company of his friends over his relationship. Listen to me…This. Is. Simply. Not. True. We can’t attach irrational meaning to simple desires. Just because I want Italian for dinner does not mean I now hate burgers. It just means that we need balance in our lives and this includes our relationships.
Prioritize doing your own thing and then TALK ABOUT IT.
Sometimes it is the abruptness of change that startles us. He anticipated that they would spend the evening together and then, at the last minute, a friend calls her and invites her out to dinner. The next thing you know, irrational meaning (see above) gets attached to the situation. He feels slighted, and that is when the fight begins. Instead, plan ahead and communicate. Take an hour or two out of your week and designate it for yourself. Whether you spend that time with friends, on the golf course, in the bathtub, or in front of the TV playing video games, the choice is yours. Just make sure it is planned and communicated in advance.
Be intentional about your time together.
Couples love routine. They often like the security of doing the same thing night after night, weekend after weekend. There really isn’t anything wrong with this, but it often devolves into doing what you did the night before for no reason other than that’s what you did the night before. Rather than allowing your relationship to fall into monotony. Decide in advance how you will be spending your time together. Prioritize quality over quantity and make the necessary effort to make the most of the time you spend together. Plan a date, either at home or out. Get dressed up. Plan a meal. If you’re really brave, you might consider dusting off a deck of Uno cards (a full-contact sport in my household). What you do isn’t nearly as important as the intentionality behind it.
At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX we specialize in helping couples find balance and maintain their individual identities in their relationships all the time. Before you talk to a counselor, make sure that they can offer what it is you are looking for as you navigate through the ups and downs that so many couples experience.
Learn more about the Relationship Therapy services we offer.
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