As a ‘Relate Certified Counsellor’ Mark can help you with:
A long term relationship should be about two people coming together and forming a partnership of increasing closeness and intimacy over the years. At the start getting to know each other is hopefully a fun and exciting experience, and comes about through spending as much time together as possible through the dating process doing things we both enjoy. This is a crucial period which enables us to establish our communication, learning about our likes, dislikes and our hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future. It would be natural (but misguided) to suppose that when living together that process would continue unhindered, and that we would have ample opportunities to give each other our undivided attention as often as required. Sadly over time and without really being aware of it, that couple time generally reduces because of the things, good and bad, that life throws at us.
Often when couples seek counselling, rather than identify some major issue which has driven a wedge between them, they talk about having grown apart and now living as two individuals under one roof. Instead of growing closer they have experienced a growing separation. On closer inspection they realise that the fun disappeared a long time ago and they no longer laugh together.
Prioritising one to one time together for our relationship is vital. During counselling people often say that they don’t have time to spend together, but then prove themselves wrong by attending the sessions for about eight weeks or even beyond. Allowing for getting ready and travelling, that probably represents around two hours, which is just about right for your weekly couple time or date night.
The fact is that spending couple time together without being interrupted appears to be increasingly difficult to achieve, thanks in part to our mobile phone devices and our amazing inability to turn them off! Unless we are strong and extremely proactive, it simply won’t happen. Sitting down together with our diaries may not sound very romantic, but we may need to take practical steps in order to make time to keep the romance alive.
Sometimes we talk about needing to work on our relationship which not everyone understands, but a relationship is continually changing, it is not something which we establish and then leave to look after its self. We need to create time to talk and be with each other, and find out what’s going on in each other’s lives as this gives an opportunity to see if there are any problems that need addressing and how best we can meet each other’s needs. In so doing through the precious gift of our time, we demonstrate our continuing commitment for each other.
For those who don’t find talking easy this can be difficult, but avoiding it can spell disaster, however the more you do it the more natural it becomes and the easier it gets. For the men in particular, if problems arise, try listening attentively as that’s all that may be required, you don’t always have to come up with a solution!
Of course couple time is not just about having deep and meaningfuls to deal with problems, far from it; it is also an opportunity to keep your relationship spark alive by having fun together. So keep dating no matter how long you’ve been together and create new memories which in the days ahead, you can then look back on.