Carol the Coach: Tools for Improving Your Relationship

Do you wish there was more intimacy in your relationship? Would you like your spouse to cuddle up, be more affectionate or talk to you about feelings?

When I talk to women about their relationships, they report a change from great initial romance to no romance at all.

IN THE BEGINNING: Couples spend hours talking over the phone or in person. Both people are eager to explore their lives together. They frequently go to movies and out for romantic dinners. They play golf together or take walks through the neighborhood hand in hand. Each partner inquires about the other’s day and has that look of real interest on their faces.

ONCE THE NEWNESS WEARS OFF: Life becomes sedentary and partners no longer have the energy or the drive to explore new places. For some clients, going out becomes nonexistent. Spouses complain that the look of interest has faded into a “comatose state”. They feel lucky if their partner answers them, let alone inquires about them.

If this sounds familiar, you may wonder how this happens. First, it’s important to realize that all relationships change (in one way or another). Relationship theorists believe that people put their best foot forward when they are in the “pursuit mode”. This ensures that they will captivate the person. Secondly, it is normal for people to put less effort into a relationship once it is attained. That’s why women commonly complain that there is less romance and men complain that there is less sex.

Knowing that this is a natural process, the next question may be what you can do to resurrect the old relationship. Nothing! You have to create a new one. Try following these steps:

  • Communicate. Talk to your partner and ask if you can add some romance to your relationship.
  • Negotiate. Maybe your partner is no longer willing to go out for candlelight dinners, complaining that they are too expensive. Negotiate on a behavior that is mutually satisfying and if worst comes to worst, do something your spouse wants.
  • Create positive synergy. This is a tough one to follow. Pretend that your spouse is behaving exactly the way you need. Make a comment that builds their ego. Tell them that they are sexy. Pass them in the hall and steal a kiss. Brag about them to your mutual friends. If you become angry or sullen, you won’t get what you want. If you want more love, then part of the plan requires giving more love.
  • Strategize and change your expectations. Figure out what would make it more fun for them to participate. Include another couple, go to a restaurant that features their kind of food, or go to an event that they enjoy and tease them about wanting to please them. Use your sense of humor and creativity and replace that resentment with a new form of closeness.
  • Organize your life. Spend time meeting your own needs. Can’t get your spouse to go out to that rotating restaurant to look at Christmas lights? Call your girlfriends and end your shopping spree with appetizers and Christmas lights on the Circle.

I believe that we are all 100% responsible for making ourselves happy. It may not be the perfect relationship, but it will make you feel better about being committed to your partner if you work on these skills and figure out what your needs are so that you can safely meet them and raise your happiness factor. Put this column somewhere close to remind you to use them and watch your relationship prosper.