When Couples Grow Apart
Are you struggling with a relationship that has become bland, blah or just plain boring? Has your once loving relationship become one that is now nasty, spiteful and, at times, vicious?
If your relationship has deteriorated, you’re probably feeling frustrated, angry, discouraged and maybe even defeated. You’ve tried to explain your concerns to your spouse. You’ve tried to overlook annoying behaviors. You’ve tried to keep your temper at bay. Yet nothing seems to work for any length of time. What to do?
I wish I could offer you a quick fix that will magically solve all your issues. But that would lead to more disappointment when the solution doesn’t work or wears off within a few days. Hence, I will leave magic to the magicians and simply share with you a few concepts that might get you thinking.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
An intimate relationship usually comes into being because of a multitude of positive vibes. It’s not only the sex appeal; it’s also the acceptance, attention, caring, cherishing, zip, and zest that makes you feel loved, perhaps even treasured. Life has never been better.
Yet over time, your relationship has changed. When couples grow apart, caring and cherishing utterances are not only waning, they’re now replaced with angry, blaming, critical, disappointing utterances. A simple example:
- She complains that he doesn’t do what he promised he would do.
- He complains that she’s a nag, always pestering him to do something.
And the conflict continues, builds and remains unresolved.
Instead of feeling betrayed by this change in your relationship, it would be helpful if you recognize that this change is normal and typical, (with the proviso that the conflict and negativity do not get out of hand). What???? Why is this normal?
1. Intimate relationships are dynamic and ever changing. They need to adjust to new circumstances (i.e. children, finances, illness). They need to adjust to changes in each partner’s personality (she used to be sheepish and shy; now she’s bold and brash). They need to adjust to changes in society (the pull of technology, the pressure for success). These changes put new strains on the relationship, requiring each individual to adapt to the change, without undue resentment or displeasure. Not always easy to do!
2. Intimate relationships are typically built on a bed of illusions. Over time, these illusions bump into reality. It’s hard to forgive your partner for not being who you thought he/she was. Rather than insisting that your illusions endure, it’s best to buckle down and get to know, and appreciate, your real life partner. Not always easy to do!
Reflecting on these concepts creates a strong, solid bedrock for building a better relationship. This is a good start for making significant changes. For if you begin marital therapy with the mindset that something’s wrong with him/her and he/she has to be fixed right now, the therapy is doomed for failure.
“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
James M. Barrie
Linda Sapadin, Ph.D. is a psychologist and success coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior.