Our romantic relationships can be some of our most rewarding yet difficult relationships. There are many reasons why we got together in the first place and other reasons why we stay together. No matter the reasons, all relationships need to be nurtured and at some point, relationships need tune-ups and even restructuring of rules or expectations.
It is important to first start with making sure you have a vision for your relationship. Your relationship vision should include things that are important to each of you such as “We have great sex” or “We travel and explore new places”. Over time your vision will change. Hopefully it expands and grows rather than shrinking and dying. It is okay that you each have unique things to add to the vision rather than only adding things that you both agree on. Respecting your differences will offer you each the opportunity to stretch and discover new things together.
No matter how beautiful your vision is for your relationship, it can feel like there is a lot of stuff in between you and your partner that make you feel stuck. If you imagine the space between you and your partner as a bridge over a beautiful stream, then you can imagine that your unresolved issues and difficult experiences can create garbage that pollutes the stream. Learning how to clean and manage that space is a crucial skill to bringing about your relationship vision. Cleaning your relational space has to do with letting go of past hurts, forgiving mistakes and releasing blame.
Managing your relational space has to do with practicing healthy boundaries, appreciating your partner, and finding ways to nurture your relationship. If things are starting to feel stale, it could be that you have allowed problems, pain and frustrations to overshadow the many things that made you fall in love with your partner in the first place. Take some time to reflect on the many things you love about your partner. How have they made you feel special over the years? How do their strengths enhance your life or make you feel safe and loved? How do their weaknesses allow you to grow in your strengths? How have they accepted things about you that you don’t particularly appreciate about yourself or that you have been judged for by others? Take stock of the things that are working and let your partner know the things you appreciate about them.
Finally, establish ways to be intentional with nurturing your love and passion for each other. Whether it is through simple things like making the bed for your partner or leaving little love notes on the mirror or something bigger like weekly date nights or yearly marriage retreats. There are all kinds of ways to keep the love burning and your relational space beautiful.
Sometimes the challenges can feel like too much for the two of you to handle alone. The truth is there is no shame in getting help for your relationship. A therapist can help you learn new skills, heal old hurts, or give you a new perspective or insight. Relationships are such an important part of our lives, we should give them our best efforts and always seek to improve our ability to be more functional in them.