Are you just so used to each other that you don’t notice one another anymore? It’s like not seeing how dirty your house is until guests are coming over. All of a sudden you’re thinking, “I know I used to love my house. How did I let it get so bad.”
This is often the case in a marriage or long-term relationship. When we stop taking care of one another by not appreciating the other and start taking each other for granted, we end up as roommates and, even worse, resentful roommates.
The lack of a satisfying, close relationship with your spouse can be based on a lack of appreciation of one another. When we begin to take each other for granted we lose sight of what made them special to us and they lose out on the love they were once receiving from us.
In the beginning of a relationship we are saying nice things to the other, complimenting, talking about how wonderful they are to our friends and family, doing nice things for them “just because”. We get used to that. It feels good and we learn that those actions show they love us. When those things stop happening do we still feel loved? When this is gone, we begin to not feel so loved and start feeling more taken for granted. We stop feeling so special and start feeling unimportant. Then the next step happens, resentment. When someone doesn’t feel loved because their partner has stopped doing the things that once communicated love, they feel let down and, inevitably, resentment starts to build.
Relationships that succeed in staying close require both people to speak up, let the other know what they need, and make sure they both are delivering consistently on the other person’s needs. It takes work because we are all pretty selfish beings when it comes down to it.
Communicating love takes work. And, if both people have a commitment to have a great, close relationship, it is well worth it.
Lay it on the Table
You’re plan is to go to your partner and say, “Remember when we first started dating and how wonderful and in love we felt? I would like to feel that way again. I’m thinking like we aren’t connecting anymore because we have stopped doing things for one another that say I love you. I want to have a better relationship and love you more. Please tell me what you need from me to feel more loved then maybe we can come up with a plan so we can both feel more loved.“
Remember that you are both feeling hurt and unloved so emotions are really high at this point. Be sensitive since you are the one bringing this up. See the other person as someone with feelings that have been hurt and it will make it easier to accept what they say.
Hopefully at this point, your partner has softened a little and can tell you some things that will help them feel more loved and, in turn, love you more. And, it might even be things you don’t like such as, “Stop complaining about me so much.”
If that is something they say, you can say back, “So you feel like I complain about you too much. That must feel bad. I am sorry and I will try to complain a lot less.”
Repeating back the things they say and apologizing for the parts you are responsible for is essential. It can be handy to make a list as they talk of things they need. Double check with them that you understand what they mean. The list might include things like:
I would feel respected if you checked with me before making plans
I would feel loved if you kissed me goodnight every night
I would feel more loved if you prepared my favorite dinner once a week
I would feel appreciated if you noticed when I do things around the house
I would feel good if you complimented me more
I would feel respected if you didn’t contradict me in front of others
I would feel closer if you sat next to me on the couch
All these tell the other person exactly what would make them feel closer to the other.
For both parties, in this lack of relationship state, there is a lot of resentment that has to be let go of while you move on. Making a commitment to one another to try to focus on the positive things and not the past during this time is essential. Because it might be too difficult, if not impossible, to go from doing very little for the other to the demands of the list, it is a good idea to choose a couple items to work on each week while you both get back on track.
Now what? Hopefully, after this heartfelt talk, you both have a plan to show more love to one another. It should include the things they have requested and the “just because” things that say I love you.
As you will begin to see, the easy part was the list. The difficult part will be implementing it daily, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when they missed one thing on your list.
It’s easy to love when you feel like it and when you are feeling loved. But how do you do it when you don’t? Or, even more so, when they haven’t delivered on their part?
You can feel doubly disappointed since now they have a list and still aren’t doing it.
1. Communication. When you feel like you are driving down the road into that state, stop your car, look over at your passenger, and tell then how you are feeling. Tell then you are feeling hurt because they didn’t do something you were expecting and you got scared because you felt unloved.
2. Grace. You aren’t perfect and there might have been one thing you missed from their list too.
3. Don’t give up. Ask them if there is something they need from you or just start doing it. Something my mom always told me was, “You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Bee the sweet honey to your honey and you will have a better chance of getting the response you want.
What if it doesn’t work? Unfortunately, there is always that possibility. If you truly know you have done everything in your power to restore the relationship and the other is not responding in kind, the house may be beyond repair and it is simply time to move. But, at least you know what you’ll need to do going into another relationship to not repeat the same problem.