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Common goal really is the secret to happy partnership

Image: 123RF

When dealing with this subject, it helps to understand that every couple is either doing something that draws them closer together, or is causing them to drift apart.

Every day we make choices about which of these two paths we take by giving more attention to individual preferences and commitments we tend to lean on, often more than we do our spouses.

However, sometimes it’s not a matter of individual interests and preferences we choose independent of our spouses, but simply that life does get busy for all of us. As we grow in our careers, families and life passions, it becomes easy to afford them a lot of attention — often to the detriment of our spouses.

Finding the middle ground between “too hot” and “too cold” is not easy, but it’s the indispensable ingredient of a healthy marriage.

Usually one of you would notice the growing distance, while the other is caught up in the grind of whatever it is that has taken their attention away. So the first step toward overcoming the growing distance in a marriage is to openly talk about your concerns.

Please ensure that this is a conversation, not a confrontation. Make it clear to your spouse that you aren’t necessarily blaming them for what is happening. Instead, provide observations about what you feel is happening and discuss how you can work together to bridge the gap.

Identifying whatever it is that’s causing the drift without making your spouse feel guilty about it, is key.

One of the best ways to enter that discussion is to refer back to why you initially decided to marry your partner, and what attracted you to them. Then juxtapose that with where your marriage is at right now.

If you wanted the same thing initially, and the two of you still connect over why you’re still together, then your spouse will be less defensive about the situation.

Make time for one another

If you no longer enjoy each other’s company, establish the reason. Couples who want to avoid growing apart need to simply do the work of being present and building their bond.

This can be accomplished by falling back into the habits that attracted you to one another in the first place. Whatever those habits are, you need to be deliberate about paying attention to each other, and intentional about spending time together.

If you actually want to remain committed to one another in a healthy and meaningful relationship, then you’ll make the time, just like you do for anything that’s important to you.

Try new things together

All relationships fall into a routine at some point. It’s never really a bad thing, it just means you’ve reached a level of comfort. But comfort can easily turn into boredom. Because you’ve become so used to being together, it can get very easy to take each other for granted. 

Once you’ve had this mindset that they’ll just be there as usual, slowly you can create a distance by not cultivating the relationship as much as you need to. One easy way to fix this is to try new things you can embark on together over time.

It doesn’t have to be some kind of big romantic gesture. Small things can also make a difference. What’s important is, you never stop making each other feel loved.

Share the burden of challenges

Sometimes couples drift apart because of life circumstances. These are things you don’t have answers for nor control over, and they cause you to believe your spouse no longer understands you.

Hiding secret burdens from your partner is a mistake. Being with you, in all that you go through, is what they signed up for when they married you.

Whether you win, lose or merely survive a challenge in your life, if you do so without the love, care and support of your spouse, it will loosen the bond you share. Even worse, in such a case the likelihood of resentment and anger emerging toward the other partner is very real.

Stay vulnerable

It’s hard to maintain intimacy with someone when you don’t know them any more. In the beginning of a relationship, couples share their fears, hopes, dreams, and feelings. When you’re not sharing your feelings, they can turn to resentments and foster feelings of loneliness and distance.

Own your happiness

Few spouses are as draining as the ones who demand happiness from their partners. What you bring to the marriage has a big impact on what the relationship will be. If you’re not happy and you lack a sense of fulfilment, you can’t depend on your marriage to provide those things for you.

You have to do the work and accept that there will be times when you maybe don’t like the person you choose to love. But putting in the time and dedication to nurturing your love will go a long way to avoid growing apart.

Develop an interest in each other’s endeavours:

Developing separate interests with your partner kind of creeps up on you. When one partner decides to walk a certain path without the other, they develop a life of their own. Eventually, you become strangers to one another even though you may share the same house together.

Taking a deliberate interest in what each partner does is one way to try reconnect and gain each other’s support. Sometimes it’s easier to feel a connection to someone when you feel they are in your corner.

Never allow your spouse to feel alone and lonely while you’re in their life. Look for ways you can show care and support for one another.

Develop a shared goal together

Marriages that last are ones where the couple creates shared meaning; where goals are set and met alongside each other.

A healthy marriage involves building a life together where dreams are not only visualised but come to fruition with the mutual buy-in of the partners. Do you have a big picture in your marriage, one you both subscribe to  — one that grounds you and give you meaning as a couple?

Never allow the fun to fly out the window:

Any relationship can start to feel less exciting over time as the realities of maintaining a lasting partnership and the grind of day-to-day life take precedence over keeping the passion alive. Never stop engaging in the very activities that brought you together in the first place.

Even after your relationship settles into a pattern, it’s essential to maintain a sense of fun in order to have a healthy marriage. Fun also encourages a spirit of teamwork and strengthens the friendship component of your relationship. Be silly, laugh, and go on fun activities and adventures together to help stay close. Having fun together is not a frivolity, it’s a necessity.

 

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