Do you feel a lack of excitement in your relationship? Perhaps a certain feeling of passion or excitement that was once there no longer exists, is much less frequent than it was or far less intense? Maybe you used to prioritize your relationship much higher, but it feels like a chore now and that passion and excitement has been replaced by indifference.
Although indifference can be a very difficult thing to turn around in a relationship, it's certainly doable -- as long as this is something that you both want -- either by rekindling what was once there or by creating something even better in your relationship. The first step in reigniting passion is to recognize what caused it to wane in the first place. So step one is to initiate a discussion with your partner. This is often the most difficult step. If your partner is equally unhappy and ready to address the issue, you've taken the most important step together! Next, consider these suggestions for focusing on where you would like the relationship to go:
Make a list of those items that you believe might have led to your indifferent feelings in the first place. These could be ongoing issues you have tried to avoid resolving. Become familiar enough with whatever is bothering your partner (and hopefully visa versa) as well as the ways you try to sweep them under the rug, that you can remind each other about when one of you begins to repeat the pattern. For example, if you tend to leave the room every time you're angry during an uncomfortable discussion, take responsibility for changing that pattern. Walk back to your partner and reopen the discussion--no matter how uncomfortable it feels. There is no getting around working to resolve the issues that are creating the distance. So make a commitment to address each one, either alone or with professional help, if necessary, until you can truly put it behind you.
Focus on the things that you like most about your partner instead of those things that are troubling you or that you dislike the most. Try to identify the ingredients that brought you together in the first place. Explore ways you can re-create those positive feelings you once had. What made your partner so special initially? What did you do when you were dating, when you first began to live together? When and why did those great things start to fade away? Chances are that in sharing some of what is important but rarely discussed, you will find some nice common ground that's been lying dormant.
Try to make it a rule that avoiding painful discussions about something that's bothering one of you is not an option. When new problems and issues come up, talk about them as soon as possible. Don't put them aside with the hope that they will simply go away. As you've probably learned, this rarely happens.
Begin reestablishing intimacy by sharing new feelings and information with your partner. Perhaps you felt your partner didn't care about a certain part of your life, or that you would be rejected if you shared certain thoughts and emotions. Intimacy begins with openness about things that are sometimes difficult to talk about. So to bring that intimacy back once again, take this risk; and get to know each other once again.
Take time to be together without other people around. Many couples get into the habit of relaxing only when sharing activities as a family (that is, with children around) or when they are with other couples. As awkward as it may sometimes seem at first, make being alone together a top priority. Initially, you may have to be very deliberate about this -- literally "making an appointment" to spend an evening together by yourselves or to go away for a weekend. But, eventually, it will hopefully become a top priority.
Discuss what your goals together are -- both long- and short-term. There is a good chance that both of you have goals that have changed since the last time you discussed them (or perhaps you never discussed them). You may find out some very valuable information about yourselves, both individually and as a couple. And while you're at it, make sure to share your hopes, dreams, and wishes.
Spend a week acting as if you were in love again. Some couples do this by going away together or finding other ways to recreate their courtship.
These things may not be easy at first, but they will kick-start the healing process and could be fun as well. In fact, you may even be able to create a degree of comfort that you never had before, if a change for the better is something that you both desire. You can also learn a number of tools in my book; Can Your Relationship Be Saved? How to Know Whether to Stay or Go to continue reigniting the spark your relationship once had.
Follow Michael S. Broder, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrMichaelBroder