In the same way that a health scare like a heart attack or cancer can be a wakeup call for you to pay better attention to the state of your health and how you live your life; a relationship “scare” can do the same for the way you handle the health of your relationship with your partner.
I see couples in my Couples Expert Practice that have missed those warning signs and paid no attention to the wake up calls in their relationships. That lands them in my office for a difficult and often painful course of therapy to repair their relationship and find their way back to a loving connection.
Your wakeup call doesn’t have to be a “heart attack” but can be as subtle as just knowing something is “off” or doesn’t feel quite right. You and your partner are missing something in the way that you interact with each other; you’re feeling somehow concerned and worried that something is going on. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it but it’s definitely there.
Maybe you’ve stopped doing things together and you’re not spending as much time as you used to just being a couple. You’ve started to pursue more of an independent lifestyle or developed interests that your partner doesn’t share in. While it’s great to evolve as a person, and to grow as an individual, you shouldn’t be doing that at the expense of your connection with your partner. They could be feeling left out or left behind, wondering why you’re choosing to spend your time on so many things that don’t include them.
Losing the balance between your work life and your personal life is a common challenge that especially driven and ambitious people tend to encounter. When the scales are tipped toward the work becoming more important, the relationship suffers. The wakeup call comes when your partner feels like they are unimportant to you because you’d rather spend more energy on your work or career than on your relationship. When this is expressed in your relationship you need to refocus on what’s truly important and find the work/life balance again.
If you feel like your partner doesn’t find you sexually attractive and the passion is gone, this is a most urgent wake up call. Losing the ability to be physically close, to play, to be sexual and intimate signals a lack of connection between you. It’s time to pay attention to the intimate aspect of your relationship, to find that lost connection and to remember how it feels to play together; to have fun to be sassy and sexy together. Break out of your ruts and routines and reestablish that sexual connection.
Unmet needs and feelings of anger or resentment can result from a variety of sources but feeling unappreciated or taken for granted causes a great deal of pain. If these strong emotions are present between you and your partner, this is a wakeup call to make some changes in the way you’re handling your relationship. It’s never too late to show appreciation, to tell your partner how much they mean to you and how much better your life is because they are a part of it. Notice and appreciate all the big and small things that your partner does for you, for your family, and for your household. There are a thousand thankless tasks that are done throughout the week that may never be commented on. Do your utmost to recognize that your partner does a great deal to make your life better and let them know. This wakeup call can make a great difference in both of you feeling important and cared for in the relationship.
No matter what it is, if you’re scared enough to sit up and take notice, I say it’s a good thing. This means you care and you want to have the best relationship possible with your partner. Taking these warnings to heart and using them to improve your lives is the best way to get scared back into a loving connection with your partner.
Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.
His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel.
Stuart practices in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he lives with his loving wife of many years, and their therapy dog, Ollie.