We are a society addicted to adrenaline. We associate excitement with instant gratification, success with final measurable outcomes. We expect or at the very least want to feel good all the time. These messages are reinforced with commercials, marketing and sales strategies, and images that we are bombarded with day in and day out.
Our relationships are not immune to the pressures of instant gratification. If we find ourselves bored or dissatisfied we immediately go to “something is wrong”—wrong with us, our lives, our mates, or the world. We have a hard time looking at the big picture. Instead we focus on the circumstances at hand and react accordingly. To illustrate my point, let’s hear Bill and Brenda’s story.
Bill and Brenda have been married three years. They dated four years before getting married and have worked through all the adjustments that newly married couples have. They are now settled into their routine as a married couple. Lately, Brenda feels restless. While she loves the security that exists within her marriage, Brenda misses the excitement and passion that has now transformed into comfort and familiarity.
It is Friday night and both Brenda and Bill have arrived home from work. Bill picked up some pizza on the way home. Bill takes his pizza into his office, content to finish up some work on his computer and then plans to settle down in front of the television. Brenda calls up her mom, gets caught up on the family news, and decides to read a novel in the comfort of her bed. Some time later, Brenda looks up at the clock and sees that it is now 10:30pm. She wanders off to see what Bill is up to. Bill has fallen asleep on the couch. Brenda sighs. She immediately feels lonely and wonders why she even bothered to get married in the first place. She concludes that she’s lonelier now than she was when she was single and dating. She feels sad. She worries that there is something wrong with her, her husband, and her marriage. She wonders if she’s become another example of an old and boring married couple.
Relationships have cycles like every other living thing on the planet. There are moments of dramatic developmental growth and there are plateaus. There are times when we are called forth to create change or respond to change. There are times when we may like our significant other more or less than others. Nothing is perfect. Relationships move with the ebb and flow of life just like everything else. So what does Brenda need to know?
- Just because she and Bill are now in a routine does not mean that there’s anything wrong with her, Bill, or their marriage. They may simply be in an “ebb” stage.
- Enjoy the quiet times. Don’t make Bill’s falling asleep or quiet weekends at home mean that there is anything wrong. It may simply mean that one or both of you are tired and need some down time.
- It is important to learn to tolerate separateness. No one can be there for you in the way you want them to be all the time.
- Take the time to learn how to fill your needs in other ways. Brenda is responsible for her own happiness. If something is lacking, first see how you can fill that void yourself.
- If Brenda wants to create more intimacy or more adventure in the relationship, she can take the lead or discuss ways that she and Bill can create some fun together.
- Stay present. Sometimes making what is wrong detracts from what is so right. Re-focus on what is right about the here and now.
- Remember that we continue to move through our circumstances all the time. If you don’t like this particular moment, then wait, a different moment is just around the bend.
Do you feel like you’re in a relationship rut? If so, what are you doing to support you and your relationship during this time?
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com