Love as a Verb
How do you cope when the honeymoon periods fades? What does it mean if you no longer feel the intense passion that once came so easily in the beginning of a relationship? In my interview with Houston Life, I noted how lot of couples walk into my practice lamenting the fact that the infatuation they felt at the beginning of their relationship has faded. I usually begin by reminding them that the initial intensity fades for just about everybody. Love transitions from a passive, “falling” process to an active, engaged process. But done right, the active process can create so much meaning in a relationship.
Practice Makes Perfect
This isn’t something to be embarrassed by. If you’re experiencing this fading of emotions, you’re not alone. This far into the twenty-first century, it’s so easy to lose the forest for the trees. We can lose sight of the little gestures and moments which make relationships so meaningful in the beginning. Many couples experience this, and I tell every couple that comes in to see me – you need to work at it!
That magnetic attraction which pulled you together needs nurturing, just like any plant needs sun and water. One tip I offer clients is the following: Set aside a half hour to set calendar alerts reminding you to do loving things for your partner. Space them out throughout the year then you’re covered. This can mean almost anything – leaving a little note, buying flowers, or making a reservation at your partner’s favorite restaurant. Use technology to prompt you to remember the little things.
Make Time to Check In
I also recommend regular check-ins. This can go a long way in keeping problems at bay. It creates a safe place to partners to share that they are feeling emotionally or sexually neglected, confused about a problem, or simply that they really appreciate something the other did. I find this to be important, because none of us are mind readers. Most of us have no problem voicing our opinions about movies, politics, and more. But the vulnerability required to tell your partner what you want in the relationship can be paralyzing.
The importance of regular check-ins is usually something I emphasize with men. Women are more likely to want to talk about their day when they get home and are more inclined to share their feelings. Men, on the other hand, are more apt to come and say their day was fine – even when it wasn’t. Often times this is well-intended – perhaps an effort to shield their partner from the stress they may be experiencing. But over time, they’re building an emotional wall which can cause issues in the relationship.
Taking small steps like these can do wonders to alleviate the pressure felt around romantic holidays because you already have those daily habits of showing affection. As an exercise, think about 3 ways you can actively show love.