There often comes a time in relationships when you look over at your partner and you simply cannot remember what attracted you to this person or why you are still together. Everything they do seems to drive you crazy; maybe it’s the way they say tomato or the way they chew their food. Or maybe it was something bigger that drove the wedge between the two of you, perhaps lies or broken trust. Whatever the reason that brought you to the point of questioning your relationship, here you are…now what? Feeling uncertain about your relationship can be a harsh reality and one that can leave you wondering, “Is it possible to fall back in love with this person and if so, how do I do it?”
Tips to Fall Back in Love with Your Partner
The short answer is WORK, it is going to take a lot of work!
And I don’t mean a solitary date night kind of work. I mean it is going to take you making intentional decisions every day to choose your partner (warts and all) and to choose your relationship over all other alternatives.
Notice your reaction when I made that statement. Did you smile to yourself and say, “I can try that” or did you shudder and say, “Heck NO”? Your initial reaction to the idea of putting effort and work into your relationship will tell you a lot about the condition of your current relationship and about your willingness to repair it. If you shuddered; stay tuned for a future article, this one is probably not for you. If you smiled with a ‘can do’ attitude, let me offer you with a few tips to begin the rekindling process.
1) Spend Time Together
While one date night might not be the answer, that is not to say that dating won’t help. Date nights allow you to take time away from chauffeuring or refereeing the kids, doing chores, or zoning out, for yet another night, in front of the TV. They let you engage in adult conversations and reconnect with your partner. Remember dating is primarily about the two people on the date, not the family at home or the bosses and colleagues at work. Use this time to reminisce about the special moments you’ve shared, perhaps create a top 10 or even top 25 list of the good times you’ve had together. Be open to sharing new life experiences and stories with your partner and listen to his stories in return. No matter how long you have been married or how much you think you may know, there is always more to learn and more to explore. As a side note, dates don’t need to be expensive dinners out or once in a lifetime experiences. They just need to be time spent together, enjoying each other’s company. Be creative and remember to compromise.
2) Forgive and Move Forward
Now I am not, nor would I ever say, forgive and forget. Too much can be learned from past mistakes to just pretend they never happened. What I am suggesting is that you allow your partner to be human which includes making mistakes and that when you are able to, you forgive those mistakes. There may be instances when you find yourself struggling to forgive, be honest with yourself and your partner and say that you are just not quite ready to forgive.
Moving forward is different from forgetting in that by moving forward you maintain the memory and the lessons learned from the mistake, but you forfeit the right to continually bring up the mistake whenever you feel like winning an argument or hurting your partner. Chances are you both have made mistakes during the course of the relationship and if the goal is to rekindle love, you need to stop keeping score and show your partner grace and forgiveness. On a side note, while forgiveness can help your partner and your relationship heal, it is more about you and your personal healing than it is about helping your partner. Your willingness to forgive can lead to your increased happiness regardless of the outcome of the relationship.
3) Be Kind
Last, but certainly not least, is to be kind even when it is not your first impulse to do so. Being kind when you don’t want to be will probably not come naturally to you, or to anyone for that matter, but with intentional practice and gracious correction, you will get the hang of it. It is amazing, the difference consistent kindness can have on your ability to once again see the good in your partner and for her to see it in you. Now, being kind does not mean saying only the sweetest of words (although sweet words are included in kindness) and offering insincere praise or gratitude. Kindness is being honest and sincere with your partner and finding a way to speak respectfully and with love even when you are annoyed, angry, or tired. Being kind can include pleases and thank yous and I appreciate yous as well as I’m angry and hurt and sad. Kindness is a skill and that when practiced correctly allows you to genuinely share your thoughts and feelings, whatever they maybe, while also strengthening the relationship.
NOTE: These tips are merely a starting point and by no means an exhaustive how-to list for repairing your relationship. It is my hope that you will take them for what they are -tips- and that you build on them in ways that are unique to your relationship. Love, respect, kindness, and forgiveness make a great foundation for a strong relationship, but it is up to you to incorporate them into the unique circumstances of your relationship.
Amber groves is a marriage and family counselor and addiction specialist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She helps couples, families and children to have the calm and peaceful life they want in their relationship and family. In her spare time, she is the mother of one busy toddler.