As a coach, I get to work with couples wanting to prevent problems and as a therapist, I work with couples who haven’t done so and are cleaning up huge messes.
One of the reasons I added coaching to my practice is to provide the resources and tools for couples to permanently build health and vitality into their relationships. Relationships are hard and I am a missionary for the power of small ordinary actions to create lasting health for couples.
I REALLY love getting to see couples build health before they get in trouble. Doing maintenance and care to your relationship is much easier than cleaning up the pain and damage caused by avoidance and benign neglect.
And yet, I am finding more and more couples settling with being “good enough” as a couple.
Too often, couples share that ‘yes, they struggle sometimes’ with communication and disconnection, but not badly enough to want to do something about it.
Is “fine” good enough for you in your relationship?
Is not being “that bad” the bar for happiness in your relationship?
Is not fighting all the time the signal that your relationship is at its best?
Are you with allowing everything else in your life to come before taking care of your relationship?
Do you tell yourselves that your relationship is important to you, but do little to take care of it?
If you answer yes or even maybe to any of these questions, I encourage you to check in with each other and make a plan.
When dating, we exhaust ourselves obsessing over our new relationship. Falling in love is physiologically addictive and fun. Yet, new relationship energy wanes and as we shift to being in a committed relationship, we settle into domestic life.
Gradually, we allow other things to take priority over keeping the connection, spark, and fun alive in our relationship. As we do so, bad habits form in our communication, our care for one another, and our responsibilities to our relationship.
Life is chaotic and busy and there is value in having the confidence in your relationship to focus on other things when needed. However, when turning the majority of our focus onto our careers and houses and pets and kids becomes the norm, we risk settling into becoming roommates, co-managers, and platonic friends. This then starts a downward cycle of getting less from the relationship and losing motivation to increase effort and care.
As a therapist, I see this with almost every couple that comes in. As they describe why they came to therapy, it is often the same story:
We met and fell in love...
We moved in together...
We got really busy...
We had kids/pets/bought a house...
We stopped going on date nights...
We stopped making time for each other...
We stopped talking...
We stopped having sex...
Now, someone has had an affair, someone is contemplating ending the relationship, someone is resentful and bitter and the couple is fighting all the time...
Certainly, not every mess I see as a therapist is caused by neglect of the relationship, but I have almost never seen a healthy, well-maintained relationship run into the catastrophic relationship challenges listed above.
Yet, in coaching, ALL the couples come in because they want more out of their relationship.
They want fire and passion and deep connection.
They want to learn better ways of resolving conflict.
They want to learn how to clean up their messes before they spread.
They want to invest in their relationship to bring back the juice of the earlier days.
People who do work to prevent problems, who commit even small bits of energy every day to taking care of their relationship, who practice good communication, repair, connection, and intimacy have health and vitality in their relationship and report more happiness and satisfaction.
And what is surprising to many, these proactive couples spend less time, effort, and money working on their relationship
This is possible for everyone and while I am passionate about getting to help every couple, you can work with a coach, a therapist, or a pastor to achieve the same results.
First, start by asking yourselves:
When do you know it is time to do some maintenance?
When do you believe it is time to invest in making your relationship healthier?
Are you content with good enough?
Do you pay attention to know if your relationship is slipping from “ok” to “meh” to “not so great” to “uh-oh…”?
What do you do every day to take care of your relationship?
Begin looking at the habits you have in your relationship and whether they are building connections or simply making your household run smoothly.
Take inventory of the positive and negative habits that either feed or deplete your connection.
Set goals together for how you want your relationship to look.
Grab a book, an online course, or a session with a trusted helper to support you in developing the tools your relationship needs to be at its best.
You deserve a vital loving relationship that builds more health and happiness in your life. Whether you have 6 months of bad habits or six decades, it is never too late to create a healthier connection.
Consistency trumps perfection and it is in the commitment to our relationship where the greatest power lies for growth.
I have created a lot of resources to support all couples, so check this link for the resources that might support you!