Spring cleaning, a time to de-clutter and re-assess what’s working and what no longer fits your lifestyle. Out with the old and in with the new. Can this concept also be applied to relationships? Absolutely. It can be an opportunity to look at the parts of your relationship that you like and the parts that need an upgrade. What patterns and bad habits would you like to replace with something new, something more loving and productive?
Let Springtime be the season to dream and create, a time to allow a fresh perspective. We all grow and change with each passing year. That’s what keeps us alive. It would be a very boring life, indeed, if we all remained the same year after year after year. Why not give your relationship the same opportunity…an opportunity to grow and thrive.
Some might disagree with this idea. Their logic: If it isn’t broken, why fix it? Or, they interpret the desire to talk as evidence that something is wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is true. This is a strong indication that you love and appreciate your partner and want to do whatever it takes to keep your relationship vibrant and alive.
Why do we feel so strongly about this? Because one of the most common concerns we hear in therapy is: “I love my partner, but I am no longer ‘in love’. I want that feeling back. I no longer feel our connection. I want more.” This is what can happen over time if your attention shifts solely to the daily activities of life…work, kids, home… and no time is carved out for each other. Before you get all upset and think “that’s real life, grow up,” here are a couple scenarios we see regularly:
Scenario #1: a woman comes in and reports that she feels unhappy and unloved. She no longer feels special. She has tried to tell her partner of her unloved. She no longer feels special. She has tried to tell her partner of her concerns, to interest him in doing things with her but he seems happy with the way things are. He is content with the relationship and doesn’t think that anything is wrong. The only thing he has noticed is that his wife doesn’t seem to smile as much. He feels that he is trying, but nothing makes her happy.
Scenario #2: a man comes into therapy and says that he is unhappy. His wife feels him drifting away and asks him about it, but he insists nothing is wrong. A couple years later he is asking his wife for a divorce. He admits that he has been unhappy for years, that life has become routine. There is no spark. Is this all there is?
What makes this particularly sad is that most of the time these people are best friends as well as a married couple. What we typically hear is: “I don’t want to lose my best friend. We used to talk about everything. I want that back.” With a little Spring cleaning, this could have been avoided. Here are a few steps to initiate a Spring Cleaning Ritual:
1. PLAN IT. Set aside an afternoon to explore your love… and how to keep it fresh and alive. Make it a date that you will look forward to by setting it up to be a check-in and dream building session. A glass of wine (or beer); cheese and crackers. Make it fun.
2. BRING PAPER. On a piece of paper, write down 5 things you love about your relationship and 3 things you’d like to work on (your cutting edge; your dreams for the future). You should each do this separately.
3. SHARE YOUR IDEAS. Take turns sharing one thing you like and one thing you’d like to change. Discuss each item. Go back and forth until you have completed the list.
4. ADJUST, THEN TWEAK. Decide what changes you would like to make and suggestions for achieving those improvements. Agree to try these adjustments for a couple weeks and check back in to see how it is working. You can make any necessary tweaks at this time. Keep checking in until you find something that works for both of you.
Remember the goal: an alive and loving relationship, one that will keep you both happily together. Compliment each other on your efforts as you go.
Is this challenging? Yes. But it’s the best type of challenge. Most of us are continually striving to be our best self. Our relationships deserve the same attention. They deserve to grow right along with us. That’s exciting news! Every year we get the opportunity to connect with our loved ones at a really deep level and talk about where we want our relationship to go…what we want now…how we want to feel. It’s Spring. Dive right in and try your own Spring Cleaning Ritual. Let us hear about your results.
The Relationship Specialists, Marilyn Hough, LMFT and Chuck Schmitt, LMFT, are inspirational teachers who share their knowledge and skills to inspire others to live their best life. They have been working together for the last twenty years. They work with individuals and couples of all ages. For more information about improving your relationships check out their website at: www.RelationshipSpecialists.com. Sign up to receive their newsletter, learn more about their services, workshops and intensives. You can contact them at 503-648-4884