Marriage can be difficult, and many couples experience moments where they feel less connected, less intimate, and less engaged in the romance and passion they experienced when the relationship began. This is a normal part of a relationship and is not something to worry about or fear; it is a result of seeping into the comfortable intimacy that comes with knowing someone and beginning to feel that you are in a safe and familiar relationship with your spouse.
However, if partners do not acknowledge what’s happening and work to strengthen their connection, it could lead to problematic outcomes.
Over time, as the early excitement that married couples experience begins to fade away, the partners typically start developing fixed routines and roles within their relationships. As this more mundane and sometimes boring reality sets in, the partners can feel resentment toward one another. They notice each other’s flaws without being distracted by the passion and excitement they felt in the past.
These feelings of resentment may start small, but without processing where they originated and working through them, they can eventually develop into something severe that can lead the partners to consider separation.
Often, when resentment and negative feelings are stewing in a relationship, the first thing to disappear is the romance or passion that fueled the relationship at the start. When one or both partners distance themselves emotionally, it can begin to feel as if they are just roommates who live together rather than people who are actively, and passionately in love with one another and building their life together.
When people begin to notice that their partner has stopped doing the “little things” that showed that they cared, it can make people less apt to try to discuss or work on things to improve their relationships and they sink into unhappiness and begin to accept it.
Tips for Returning the Romance and Passion
If you are serious about getting your marriage out of its slump, you need to be prepared to take action, as it will not happen on its own. Here are some strategies to help improve your communication and romance to get your love back on track:
Take Notice of the Things You Love About Them
Often the first things to disappear when we are comfortable in a relationship are all the small gestures that show our partners that we care. Taking a step back and noticing the things you love about your partner and the things you love that they do for you is a great way to reappreciate them. Then, once you have reflected on that and reconnected with the things you love most about them, tell them. Expressing recognition of the positive things they do can go a long way.
Listen to What Isn’t Being Said
If you are noticing that you and your spouse aren’t communicating the same way you used to, that’s a clue that something is up. Patterns of passive aggressiveness or backing down from a discussion probably mean that either you or your partner has some underlying resentment impacting your ability to connect on a healthy level. Check in with your partner about the changes in communication patterns and you may be able to identify and work through feelings of resentment.
Use Healthy Communication Skills to Connect
When having tough conversations, the way you engage with your partner will determine how productive it will be. Here are some techniques for maintaining healthy communication while in conflict:
- Use eye contact and appropriate body language
- Use facial expressions to show they have your attention
- Make sure your partner is listening
- Ensure they are giving you the same attention you are giving to them
- Speak about your feelings, not what your spouse is doing to evoke them
- “I am feeling lonely” will lead to a much more productive conversation than “You make me feel like I’m alone”
- Engage in active listening
- Summarize what your spouse has said before you respond to confirm that you have heard them correctly
Make Time for Each Other
This one seems like the most obvious, but the best way to bring romance back into a relationship is to do it through connecting experiences; dates, classes or activities, or trips together can help remind a couple why they love their partner.
This also involves dedicating time to being intimate, both sexually and interpersonally, with one another; sharing feelings and thoughts and connecting sexually can help to improve feelings about the relationship.
Give Each Other Space
We’ve all heard the saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and while special time and romantic events are important to help reignite their passion, it’s also important to give each other personal space and time. Having alone time can help partners gain perspective and look at their relationship with renewed energy and warmth.
Some people associate couples counseling with divorce, as if it’s specifically geared toward failing marriages. However, this is far from the truth. Couples engage in marriage counseling to improve their communication or reignite their passion all the time. If you feel that an objective, professional third party can help, it’s wise to consider therapy before your relationship issues become severe.
If you feel that the spark in your marriage is fizzling out, take comfort in knowing that it’s common and that couples overcome these types of challenges all the time. So long as both partners care to improve their relationship, there’s hope. Taking active steps to bring romance back into your marriage can turn things around. If you are not able to get back on track on your own, consider marriage counseling. It’s not an admission that something is wrong with you or your spouse, as much as a reaffirmation that you care about the health of your relationship.