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When you first fall in love with your partner, you can’t imagine that there may be a time at some point where you’ll need to save your relationship. But things like lack of trust and changing life views may creep into your marriage or partnership. One day you might think about leaving. Is that time now for you? Here are some things to consider.
Boredom Is Not Inevitable
Midlife is a common time for couples to save their relationship from boredom. When you’re younger, you have so many other things to think about in addition to your relationship. Things like school, your career, and your kids keep you plenty busy. But when the kids grow up and your career is stable, you might turn to your relationship and realize it isn’t the source of excitement it once was. You might even wonder what you saw in your partner at one time.
If you’re feeling like this now, know that you can change your relationship. Boredom is not a foregone conclusion. First, talk to your partner about how you feel. Don’t accuse them – remember it’s not their fault – but instead tell them you’d like to change things. Come prepared with suggestions.
Maybe changing your relationship is as simple as having a date night once a week, where you both get dressed up and go out like you did when you were dating. Or perhaps it’s taking time to write notes to each other during the week. Only you know what it will take to make your relationship more fulfilling.
Trust Can Be Repaired
There are a lot of sayings about infidelity that are common but don’t apply to every couple. One is “once a cheater, always a cheater” and the other is “once trust is broken it can’t be repaired.” This might be true for some couples, but not all.
Remember that relationships aren’t just “on” or “off,” but sometimes they are in process. Don’t let other people’s opinions influence your decision, but take time to work through the anger and hurt before you decide to leave. There are many reasons to stay in a relationship, but each and every one is personal. Some people stay for religious reasons, some to keep a family together, and some because they truly love their partner and can’t imagine life without them.
If you or your partner have been unfaithful, you can save your relationship. Seek out professional help so you have an objective third party to help you through the process, and understand that it will take time.
Learn Each Other’s Love Language
Giving love in the way your partner needs to receive it is the concept behind “love languages,” coined by Dr. Gary Chapman. Every person gravitates towards one of five love languages, and when they receive love in the way that means the most to them they feel more fulfilled in their relationship.
Love languages not only help you give love but can stop you doing behaviors that are particularly hurtful to your partner. For example, if your partner’s love language is “acts of service,” he or she feels loved and appreciated when you do things to “ease the burden of responsibilities” they have, like vacuuming or doing the dishes. By contrast, if your partner needs to remind you to do these things, they will feel more hurt and disappointment, as if you don’t care for them as you should.
Daily Note Something You Love About Your Mate
If you feel as if your relationship is waning, try looking at your mate in a new way. Purposely look for things you love about him or her. Look for things that are general (like the fact that they are kind or have a good sense of humor), or more specific (like the way he still reaches for your hand when you’re out shopping, or how she always listens to you talk about your day after work.)
If it helps, write down one of these positive things each day. At the end of each week, go back and read what you wrote. It may help you view your relationship in a new light. It will also help you communicate better with your partner. You can approach concerns you have in a more loving way, which will be received much better by your partner.
Tell Your Partner What You Need
Even people that have been together a long time can’t read each other’s minds. Sometimes couples give up talking about what they need. This means that over time you resent your partner for not giving you what you really desire, as if he or she knows what it is but refuses to give it to you. Don’t think like this. You may believe that your partner “should know by now” what you like and need (and maybe they should!) but if they don’t, tell them. Don’t give up on your relationship until you’re sure your partner is unwilling to give you what you need.
When talking with your partner, make sure you’re specific. For example:
- “I want us to go to kissing more passionately just because.”
- “I would like you to hold my hand more often.”
- “I would like to go a movie every few weeks, and hang out afterward like we did when we were dating.”
- “I miss that you don’t write me love notes anymore. I really appreciated them. Would you please write me a note once a while to let me know you love me?”
Communicating in this way not only lets your partner know that you desire something, it also assures them that you appreciate their effort. When you want to save your relationship, it is often the smallest of changes that can make the most difference.