First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes -- routine. Behold three ways to change your point of view -- and get out of a rut.
By Alexandra Solomon, PhD
1. Ask yourself, "What's it like to be with me right now?" The heart of intimacy is the management of difference -- it isn't about whether you have conflict, but how you handle it. When you feel provoked, it's easy to outline all the ways your partner is letting you down. But you have to be able to examine your role in the situation.
2. Really look at each other. It's hard to be angry with somebody when staring into their eyes, and as mammals, we're hardwired so that attention from another person can soothe us. Also, touch each other. Couples experiencing a "dry spell" often say they've stopped having sex because they're angry. But the opposite can also be true: They're angry because they've stopped having sex.
3. Take care of yourself to keep your relationship healthy. I believe humans' default mode is love -- a need for attachment is one of our basic survival instincts. But to experience love, we need to be aligned with our best selves. As infants, we occupy an instinctual space of connection, but as we age, we develop anxieties, fears, and feelings of shame that cloud our ability to connect. So if you can't remember why you love your partner moment to moment, you may need to focus on you. Keeping your heart open begins with self-acceptance.
Alexandra Solomon, PhD, is a clinical psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University.