Few Couples grow apart intentionally or consciously. In most cases, it sneaks up on you like a thief in the night. Growing apart could easily be the greatest threat to relationships today.
Work obligations extend into personal hours. Commuting takes time away. Children/family commitments absorb all the time you have if you let them. Add in time for religious activities, home repair, not to mention keeping up with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill-paying, personal hygiene, shopping and the list goes on….not to mention sleep, recreation, hobbies. Carving out time for the two of you can feel like one more obligation to fulfill.
In some ways, it’s easier to ignore a good relationship because it doesn’t demand your attention. Unless someone is complaining, it’s easy to take each other for granted. In the process of being responsible you become irresponsible to the relationship.
Partners grow apart by: following their individual interests. Boredom, having no effective way of managing differences and through lack of connection.
Here are some common reasons why a person might choose not to connect.
- Lack of feeling able to talk and be heard. I can’t talk to you because our conversations always end in a fight. You interrupt, correct, criticize and always have to be right. I’ve given up.
- Lack of affection. I can’t even remember the last time you showed me any physical affection. When I reach out to you, I get the cold shoulder or I’m accused of only wanting sex.
- Attention to Needs: How can you expect me to be sensitive to your needs when you have ignored mine over and over again?
- You’ve taken away the one activity that used to make us feel the most connected.
- Lack of fun. You won’t join me in my idea of fun, and yet you don’t have suggestions for other things to do. You also don’t see how much I have to do before I can have fun and you don’t help me.
- Joint Projects. I know you have a “to-do” list for me, and if you were running my life I would spend all my spare time completing tasks. While I think some of this is important (mainly because you like it), that’s not how I want to spend my spare time.
Transform Growing Apart
Growing apart can change. The way to fix this, can be fun and highly rewarding.
Think of reconnecting the same way you save money: pay yourself first. Carve out time for your relationship and spent that time together even if it means cheating other aspects of your life. Put a date night on the calendar and attach a serious penalty for breaking it. Don’t wait until you have time for each other: take time for each other and make other things wait!
- Make a list of activities you do together that leave you in a better place with one another. If you don’t know of any, make it a goal to discover the activities as a team.
- Get interested in each other’s interests.
- Affection can go a long way towards reconnecting. Make a move.
- Focus on solutions instead of problems. Brainstorm ways to get reconnected again.
- Learn something new together.
- Make goals for your relationship and work on fulfilling them together.
If the two of you have grown apart to the point of being strangers, you may have to fight your way back – and one of you may have to carry the burden alone for a while. It’s very powerful when even one person becomes energized on behalf of the relationship, especially in the face of opposition or apathy from the other partner.
Be willing to make a drastic change in your lifestyle for the sake of your relationship. Many couples become trapped in the life they have created.
Have compassion, show care and remember that love is an action, not just a feeling. If you still love each other, make your behavior and commitment to the relationship be a reflection of that love.
***From “You’re Tearing Us Apart- Twenty Ways We Wreck Our Relationships and Strategies to Repair Them” by Pat love, Eva Berlander and Kathleen McFadden and paraphrased by Denise O’Doherty.