We hear stories all of the time of romance and “falling in love.” The early days of dating someone new and sharing your life with him or her can feel intoxicating. These feelings are powerful, and often play a necessary role in moving us toward loyalty and commitment. I meet with couples daily that when asked, are quick to share the exciting and loving details of when they first met, and even share the qualities of their partner that they fell in love with.
Then fast forward a few years and the relationship often feels very different than in those early days. “He doesn’t love me anymore,” or “Nothing I do is ever good enough for her,” are comments I hear frequently. How can 2 people change so much over a period of time to cause them to question why they even fell in love in the first place?
It is easy to blame our partner for the loss of love feelings in the relationship, however pointing the finger on a failing relationship is like saying to your partner that their side of the boat is sinking. Let’s take a look at some key elements that are often lost or forgotten when love begins to dwindle.
- Are you speaking THEIR love language? When we are first dating, we tend to communicate using all 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapmen, The 5 Love Languages), namely touch, service, quality time, gifts, and words of affection. We shower one another with all forms of love and affection (that is the intoxicating part). However, as time passes and we become more comfortable in our relationship we also tend to become complacent. We forget the little things that we did for our partner that meant so much. We forget to communicate in a way that translates our love effectively to our partner. More often than not, we settle for loving in ways that are meaningful for us, but don’t speak to the heart of our loved one. We are “loving” but missing the target completely. If you don’t know your partner’s love language, now would be a great time to find out. I recommend taking a short quiz together to find out how to speak more directly to your partner’s heart. Go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
- Are you dating? Life gets busy, and in marriage, courting is often replaced with children, careers, mortgages, and even hobbies. We fail to recognize what we are working toward and that success in other areas of one’s life cannot compensate for failure in our most intimate relationships. Frequent and consistent dating gives couples an opportunity to share concerns without the distractions of normal life, but even greater, it gives us the chance to laugh, play, and remember that person we fell in love with. Dating doesn’t require large sums of money – most of us didn’t have money to blow in the early stages of dating anyways, but we were able to get around it by being creative. Whether money or time is an issue, there is no excuse to not be dating. The goal is chiseling out time to be together and making the relationship a priority.
- Are you present? There is an odd phenomenon in our culture today where couples actually seem to be spending more time together physically, yet they feel more disconnected than ever. Modern technology has allowed many of us to work from home and accomplish tasks such as shopping, networking, and even accessing entertainment, and yet with these advances we have the tendency to co-exist in our busy world, and yet often miss out on what is most important. I have heard couples say that they date weekly, yet complain that their partner (or both of them) is on technology throughout the better part of the date. Many couples have benefitted tremendously by leaving the technology in their purse or pocket during the period of time they are out together. Some have even chosen to leave it at home. Additionally, I cannot say enough about the importance of unplugging when we are home and looking for ways to interact with, communicate with, and serve those we love.
Feeling loved doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. It is advantageous when both partners are on board to improve the relationship, but not all is lost even in situations where only one partner seems motivated to turn a relationship around. Giving to your partner and stepping out of your own comfort zone can often be what your loved one needs to rekindle what once was lost.