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Relationship "Slump Busters"
Part 1 of 2

Larry James

UpDated October 26, 2012
Recommend this article to a friend!

Living Life in the Leap!
Living Life in the Leap!
So often in coaching couples about their relationship, I hear one or both partners say, "The passion is gone. We're just roommates. It's just not the same as it was." How sad to have moved away from the excitement that once was.

While it may be true that with the passing of time some couples tend to tilt away from the consistency of effort that is required to keep them on track, it doesn't have to be that way.

When you have experienced a pulling away, a slowdown in affection, sex and all the other important things that seemed to matter when you first met, it is often difficult to begin again.

The hardest part of coming out of a slump is acknowledging you are in one. You cannot solve a problem that you cannot admit you have.

When the energy you pour into your relationship has slowed to a trickle, there are some things you can do.

Don't give up! The power to break through a slump is in you.

If you are thinking, "It's no use. I'm tired of doing all the work in the relationship. He/She isn't even trying. I've got to get out!" Think again. Your interpretation of how things are colors what happens next. It alters your forward motion. While in the heat of battle, it may feel easier to leave the relationship rather than do the work you committed to in the first place. The odds are against you.

Making another relationship work most likely will not work if you do not take time to work though the issues you are currently experiencing. It is most difficult to start over in a relationship you are already in, much less begin a new one.

Adversity does not create a great relationship - it reveals it! Upsets create the wisdom necessary to grow in spite of the situation. Upsets stimulate courage to face what's next. To have a problem be an experience of value, you must be attentive to the lesson the upset presents and be courageous enough to do what is necessary to avoid a future setback for the same reason.

It helps when both partners are in agreement. Obviously one person cannot do the work of two. Remember you are in a partnership. It takes two! The sad truth is, you know the relationship is over when one partner refuses to work on the relationship.

Once the decision to move forward is clear, getting started will be your next hurdle. It requires your personal urgency. It will take a leap of faith. This may feel like you are living your life in the leap; not being sure of what will happen or where you will land. It will also take courage. It will take both partners working together, making new promises and beginning with baby steps.

It's time to make some new choices such as changing your thinking, constructing new behavioral patterns and changing your relationship from one that may be sinking into the abyss, into one you can be proud to be in.

At least now you know what doesn't work. Perhaps this is good. Don't do your relationship that way anymore. The secret is to not repeat past destructive behaviors. It is much wiser to learn to remake the future than to continue to relive the past.

Here are some ideas to help you get your relationship back on track. Investing your time in working together a little each day on a few carefully selected "Slump Busters" will pay off handsomely in your relationship.

Rebuild Your Relationship With Yourself - This is the first step in the right direction. When your relationship with you sucks, you cannot be the kind of person your partner needs you to be. Work on you first. The relationship is a close second. Two broken people cannot fix each other. If you want to fix your relationship, start by fixing yourself.

Only you can do the work that you know must be done. I stress "know" because everyone knows himself or herself better than anyone does. If you truly want out of your relationship slump, you must begin to be honest with what needs to be fixed within you. Learning to love yourself teaches you to love others. Learn to love you. Only then can you offer the kind of love your partner needs. Only then.

Begin Again - Start fresh. Why is it that when you were first together, everything was great? Each of you were doing the right things. The relationship was on fire! The reasons don't really matter. What matters is that you acknowledge that you both stopped doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Re-acquaint yourselves. Get to know each other again. Begin to woo each other like you used to do. Take a moment right now and recollect some of those special moments. Think about it.

It's never too late to recreate the good times. You may have a fresh start on your relationship any moment you choose. Forgive yourself for getting off track. It will release you from the negative feelings that keep you and the relationship stuck. Refuse to hold on to what may seem unforgivable. Read, Forgiveness: What's it For?. Negotiate some new agreements. It's time to move forward.

The Correct Carrot - What is your relationship carrot (or goal)? What dangles in front of you that keeps you moving forward? What is important to you? To your partner? If you have no good reasons for being together, then the relationship will not work. Spend some time together talking about what is important to both of you. Set some mutual relationship goals. Commit these ideas to paper. Undefined goals are unreachable. Goals allow you to control the direction of change in your relationship. To follow a relationship path without knowing where it leads is a mistake.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! - Laugh about anything or nothing for 30 seconds each day. If you must, force yourself. Don't be a sourpuss. Drive yourself happy. It doesn't take long for a put-on outburst of laughter to become the real thing. Redevelop your sense of humor. Demonstrate an abundance of smiles for your partner. It's catching. If you think you have nothing to laugh about. . . you're right. Find something to laugh about. What you think about and speak about, you bring about. Force yourself to look at the bright side of things for a change.

The Perfect Present - Be happy now! It's a choice, you know. Focus on the perfect present and its opportunities rather than worrying about past guilt or failure anxiety. There is no future in the past. There is only right now! Live it to its fullest.

Don't Be a "Lone Ranger" - Obviously you must spend time alone to do the work that is necessary for you to be the person your partner can enjoy being with. However, you must also plan to spend time together. The keyword here is "plan." Stand by your plan. Keep your commitment to be with your partner. Make a collective effort to be together. Work as a team. Together everyone accomplishes more.

Accelerate Your Bounce-Back Time - Disagreements will occur. When they do, bounce back quickly. If an "I'm sorry" is appropriate, muster the courage and say it. Don't waste time wallowing in the stuff of the quarrel. Someone has to be first to break the silence. Let it be you.

Don't Let Your Partner Determine "Your" Behavior - When the relationship is strained, it is often difficult to be your own person. Sometimes you may feel that if you don't do what your partner wants you to do, he/she will be upset and become even more distant. This is where agreements are important. Agree to allow each other to make your own choices, first for yourself and then for the relationship. Remember, women usually respond most to a man's action or lack of action. Men generally respond most to a woman's attitude. So. . . now you know what you need to work on. Men - Action. Women - Attitude.

Eat Right - Sleep Tight - Keep Fit - When you are frustrated with the tension present in your relationship it is easy to miss a meal or indulge in inappropriate food, alcohol or drugs. This is another mistake. Pamper yourself. Make a special effort to attend to your diet and your overall well-being. Healthy stamina translates into healthy relationship endurance.

You can never catch up on the sleep you missed. Never slight your body on the amount of rest it needs. When you exercise your body, you stimulate your mind. When you are fit, you feel better and are more likely to perform better in your relationship. This is another part of taking care of you.

Simply the Best! - Compliments given with sincerity are a genuine gift of love. Offer them often. Be generous with praise for your partner. Catch them doing something right. Let them know you noticed. The road to prosperity in relationships is paved with a commitment to generosity toward your partner.

We feel closest to people who cause us to feel good about ourselves. There is absolutely no room for "constructive" criticism in a healthy love relationship. Constructive means to build up. The intent of criticism is to tear down. Those two words do not fit together at all. Criticism by its very nature is only and always destructive, not constructive. Try constructive compliments instead; expressions of love straight from the heart. Those words will be music to your partner's ears. Some might call it "ear candy!"

Perhaps all of us would be better off if we would take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

People don't change because they are criticized. They change when the relationship is nurtured with warmth and goodwill that inspires them to please their partner. Appreciation is on the list of top ten needs for most people.

Serve Others - There is nothing quite like serving others to temporarily get your mind off your own dilemma. Visit a friend in need. Take a buddy to lunch. Volunteer to help a needy organization. Do some charity work. Often we subconsciously work though our own stuff when we take side trips to attend to others. Be generous with your giving. Make a contribution to your relationship by giving to others and your relationship will make a contribution to you.

Abandon Your Expectations - At best, this is difficult, however your unfulfilled expectations always cause problems. Know that this is true. I can assure you that this is part of the problem. Instead of expecting your partner to love you the way you think they should love you, put aside your expectations and allow them to love you the way they love you. Instead be clear about what you need from the relationship and communicate what those needs are to your partner.

This does not mean accepting any kind of emotional or physical abuse. That is totally unacceptable. There is never a good reason to stay in an abusive relationship. "NEVER!" If you or someone you know is in a relationship that is either emotionally or physically abusive be sure to read, "Domestic Violence Sucks!"

Exercise Your Power of Choice - This is your greatest gift. Do your best not to repeat the bad choices you have made in your relationship that have brought you to this point in time. Think before you act. This may take some effort because up until now, your focus has most likely been on seeing your partner in a negative light. You get what you focus on. That hasn't worked. It's time to change that. Looking for and seeing the good in your partner has its own way of encouraging better choices.

Touch Me! - There is great healing in the power of touch. Hold hands. Neck in the car. Give your partner a foot or full-body massage. Spend time kissing and caressing. Give your partner an extended hug, one that lasts several minutes. Agree to touch each other every day.

Celebrate Love! - Celebrate your special days in romantic ways. Make a note of your "secret anniversaries" that belong just to the two of you; your first date, the day you first made love, the day you moved into your home, the day you got your marriage license, the day he/she proposed. Plan something special. Rent a "romantic movie" and snuggle while you watch it together. Send a card with your very own loving message.

Turn on the Fun! - Plug in and play. Be a kid again. Plug into what your partner enjoys and then do whatever it takes to make your play time together memorable. Make a commitment to add a dose of fun to your daily routine with your partner.

Think back to some of the great times you've had together and recreate the experiences. If you are going to remain together, you must plan time to be together for play. You must also return to doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Offer "no excuses" for not being able to plan no less than one night each week to turn on the fun! Having fun in your relationship is not an option; it's mandatory!

Dress Up, Not Down - Go on a date and this time dress to the nines! Make it special. Rent a tuxedo. Buy a new dress. Make advance reservations at a classy restaurant and let everyone wonder about what the special occasion might be. Put all the stuff of the relationship aside for that night and pretend it's your very first date. It's not so important to always dress up. What is important is that you actually plan to have a weekly date!

Got Kids? - Never use your children as an excuse to not work on you or your relationship. While it is true that you have an awesome responsibility to care for your children, if you put them first and you last, I suggest that there may be some confusion about your priorities. If you forget to take care of you, you are not leading by example. It's important to be a good example for your kids.

Some will tell you to never air your disagreements in front of your kids. I disagree. Children are much smarter than we give them credit. They know when you have misunderstandings and arguments.

When your children witness an argument, reassure them that it is not their fault. Demonstrate to them that parents can be angry and still love each other while they are finding solutions to their problems. The skill of teaching fair fighting or at least keeping the decibels at a reasonable level when expressing your concerns is key.

However. . . always arguing and raising your voices in front of the children is inappropriate. Most high-level disagreements should be out of hearing range of the kids. Strive for balance. Your home is a school. What are you teaching your children?

Reward Your Partnership for Doing the Right Thing - Stay on track. Do what's right. Do unto your partner what you would have them do unto you. Indulge in honoring your combined efforts. Buy your partnership a trophy from a trophy shop. Have it engraved. Present it to each other in your very own private ceremony where you renew your promise to each other to continue to work together.

Dazzle Your Partner Unexpectedly - Predictability breeds boredom. Be spontaneous. Do something completely out of character. Send a mushy greeting card for no reason. Suddenly stop beside the road, pick a wild flower, hand it to your partner and say, "I love you!" and be on your way. If you are annoyed because your partner spends too much time watching football, surprise him and watch the game with him. Pop some popcorn and bring his favorite beverage on a tray. Light some candles in the bathroom and treat her to a warm bubble bath followed by a 20-minute foot message. Use your imagination.

Romantically impaired? Read, 1001 Ways to Be Romantic by Greg Godek.

Let There Be Light - Don't take life or yourself so seriously. Lighten up! There will be screw-ups and breakdowns. Roll with the punches. If you make a mistake, don't let it get you down. Acknowledge the mistake, take corrective action and continue moving forward. Poke fun at yourself, but never at your partner. That's their job. Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused. Smile often.

Tackle Talk - Communicate. It is often most difficult to restart this process. AND it is the most important way to contribute to your relationship. If you have both been shut down. . . recommit to opening up to each other. Choosing wisely what you say and how you say it gives you great power. Not talking can cause a serious disconnect from the one you say you love. My partner and I made an agreement before we were married. We agreed to talk about anything and everything, all the time. It has been the most important agreement and also the most difficult agreement to keep. Without an agreement in place, neither partner has a promise to communicate.

Talk the Talk - Instead of speaking only of what has been. . . revise your way of speaking about what you want and need in your relationship today. Pour all of your energy into speaking only good words about your relationship. So many times I hear partners speaking to their friends in a negative way about their partner. It you cannot say something good about them; it is better to say nothing at all. If you speak or think only of the problem, hopelessness and despair, you will get more of that.

Weigh your words. 500 of the most commonly used English words have 13,000 meanings. Choose your words carefully. They become your reality. Wherever your attention is centered, your thoughts will focus, and since action follows thought, the things you keep looking at and speaking about are going to determine what you will experience. Your relationship lives on the tip of your tongue.

Never say things to your partner that you know will trigger past bad experiences. To do so is antagonistic and just plain stupid. In this scenario, remember, a closed mouth gathers no foot.

Make an effort everyday to tell your partner how much you appreciate them. Talk tenderly. Use terms of endearment, like "Honey," "Sweetie," "Baby," etc. Say "thank you." On the way to the office? Say "Goodbye, sweetheart" instead of just "Goodbye." Whisper sweet nothings! Act loving toward each other daily and you will feel more loving toward your partner.

I hate the term "Fake it till you make it," however it's true that when you begin to visibly act more enthusiastic about your relationship, the enthusiasm is contagious. Talking the talk is one thing. Speak only good of your partner to yourself, to your partner and to others. Only good. Walking the walk should also be a high priority.

Nurture your partner with words of love, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. Nurture: To nourish, educate, grow or develop; cultivate.

Planet Positions Got You Spaced Out? - Let go of having to "be right!" Healthy, full functioning couples find happiness is sharing their differences instead of being indifferent to them. They discover happiness in discussing, in a loving way, areas of mutual concern. It's true! Men and women are truly different, AND there are similarities. Living Life in the Leap!
Living Life in the Leap!

Healthy couples identify problems, talk openly and honestly about their differences and choose workable solutions. Integrate your mutual intentions for a healthy, happy relationship or the relationship will evaporate.

Even though it may appear that you are from different planets because you share so little in your communication, it is possible for you to lay down your ray guns, seek peace and choose to travel in the same orbit, working together to celebrate your differences in ways that mutually benefit the relationship. Always remember: If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it!

Straight Shooting - Trust is the foundation of a healthy love relationship and it must be earned. Make an agreement to only allow truthful disclosure in your relationship. Not telling the truth about how you feel, only telling part of the story, withholding your wants and needs to your partner slowly erodes the trust in your relationship. Without trust there can be no effective communication; without effective communication there can be no genuine intimacy. Never lie to your partner. Honesty always wins.

Push the Envelope - Develop a mutual incentive that will assist you in motivating each other to be the best you can be. Be inventive in providing the kind of reward that can be your inspiration to continue the process. Never stop. NEVER! Have the incentive be bigger than you can imagine and something you can both be excited about, something that will call forth the extra effort required to get you both back in the groove. How about a romantic getaway in the mountains for a long weekend? Use your imagination.

Mutual agreement is important. Mutually agree that you will do something exciting together when you can both agree that your new relationship has reached a higher plateau.

It is important to understand that a marriage partnership is never 50/50. Relationships seldom feel easy, however, a relationship is less of a struggle when two people agree to do whatever it takes to make it work. Whatever it takes doesn't mean "giving it your best shot and if it doesn't work, you move on." It means doing whatever it takes. Try 100/100. That works much better.

Partners Profit - Share the wealth of information you have learned about yourself with your partner. Agree to share relationship tips and techniques in a loving way. Agree is the key word. Be careful that in your sharing you don't consistently "point the finger" by suggesting tips that you know that they need. A better way might be to share the insights you have noticed that have deeply affected your thinking and your behavior.

Trash or Treasure? - Start a scrapbook. Stash your memories. Save special greeting cards, matchbook covers that remind you of great times past, snapshots, a pressed red rose, ticket stubs, a handwritten poem, a funny valentine. One of my own lifelong desires was to see Frank Sinatra in concert. After the concert my friend, Sandy and I had the two tickets and the program framed to preserve the unforgettable memory of our very special time together.

Part 2next

Copyright © - Larry James. Adapted from the book, "How to Really Love the One You're With."

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