Reader question - I am with the man I believe is my romantic soulmate. We have had several wonderful years together, but now the romance is waning between us and I want to get it back, but don't know how. Advice?
It is often possible to rekindle the romance, even if only one partner is actively seeking regeneration. The reality is that all relationships change over time. Couples who stay happy and vibrant together have mastered the fine art of growing individually and collaboratively along with the normal and natural stages of life.
9 Questions to Ask Yourself When the Romance is Fading:
Your first step is to have a deep, soul-searching, and utterly candid conversation with yourself:
- Are both of us feeling the distance or is it just me?
- “What is missing?” which can also be expressed as “What would need to be added, different, changed, or jettisoned for me to feel connected again?”
- What am I willing to do to help shift this dynamic? Am I willing to do these things even if he isn’t interested in doing anything right now?
- Has either of us stopped doing the things that mattered back when we were feeling more connected? Do we both miss those old things or are either of us craving new things?
- Are we just in a rut?
- Have we lost our sense of “we”?
- Have we grown in different directions? If so, have our individual priorities changed? Do we have less in common than we once did? Have our mutual goals morphed?
- Am I staying because I would still choose him over all other men or is it because being together has become a comfortable habit? If it has become a comfortable habit, am I satisfied with that? Is he?
- Am I staying because I am secretly afraid of being alone and having to start over?
No one can answer these questions for you. There are no right or wrong answers and no multiple choice options. Your goal in this conversation is simply to know yourself and him better.
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All Relationships Go Through Stages
Lisa and Phil met in college. They were young and excited about life. Lisa was drawn to Phil because he was fun. They shared many interests, their hopes and dreams were in sync, and being with him made her feel upbeat and cherished. Phil adored that Lisa made him laugh and that he felt important in her life.
Eventually, they married. Their priorities shifted with each of them desiring to settle down from college antics, focus on their careers, and build a solid future.
When the kids began arriving, they both had to grow up a bit more. Roles and responsibilities at home rearranged themselves to ensure everything got done including finding time for each other. It was tough, but important to both of them.
They continued to grow up right alongside their kids. Diapers gave way to carpools. Carpools gave way to drivers’ licenses. And then came college...
One day, Lisa and Phil realized that the qualities and characteristics that had so attracted them back in college no longer mattered. In some cases, they no longer even liked those attributes they once cherished! They knew they had an opportunity – They could re-invent themselves together for where they were now in life and what they really wanted at this stage, or they could go their separate ways.
At some point, every couple reaches this same crossroad, with or without marriage and children. No matter what your choices and circumstances, Life happens like a great big game of Cosmic Pinball. Your individual bumps may take you in the same direction or shoot you to opposite corners. As long as you are still in the same game, you can continue to rise in love together.
This concept is explored in depth in Dr. Steven Craig’s The 6 Husbands Every Wife Should Have.
“My job as a partner is to constantly reinvent myself, maturely and without resentment or regret. Doing so not only makes my marriage better, it makes my life fuller and it makes me a better person as well as a better husband. If I didn’t face and make these transitions, my wife wouldn’t want me. Not because I wasn’t a good guy, but because I didn’t grow up.” ~ Dr. Steven Craig
One of the best ways to navigate these cross-currents comes from another favorite book: The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. This may be the best book ever written on appreciative communication and the best example of living the principle The Giver becomes the Receiver.
Lots of articles and websites recommend tactics like gazing into each other’s eyes, booking a romantic getaway, writing love letters, more togetherness and touching. While each of those ideas has potential, they may or may not be a good match for your own relationship.
For each of us, there is a different recipe for what works best and Dr. Chapman helps you get to the heart of what makes your Beloved feel loved. If spending time together is what speaks to his heart, you can buy him gifts till the cows come home and it will only nudge him a little and might frustrate him a lot as he wonders if you are trying to “buy him off” instead of investing your time and attention. Thanks to that well-intentioned miscommunication, he won’t feel loved and you will feel like you are knocking yourself out and getting nowhere.
Figuring out your Beloved’s Love Language isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t always intuitive either. Thankfully, Dr. Chapman lays it all out in easy-to-understand language and steps.
Once you begin understanding what your darling really wants at this stage of Life, you can begin giving it to him. And here’s the beauty – as he feels more loved and appreciated, he will naturally show more love and appreciation towards you. If he is making an effort, you have an opening for a candid conversation with him about what speaks to YOUR heart now. Please just do that in a way that shows appreciation for what he is already doing!
On the other hand, sometimes relationships end. As hard as it may be, we each have a responsibility to respect the free will of our partner if they are ready to move on. You cannot force someone to stay or get closer. When that is the case, a wise woman will shift into the mode if Conscious Uncoupling, choosing kindness as the relationship winds down and each partner moves on separately. Remaining friendly and cordial is the very best gift you can give to yourself and to this person with whom you have shared Life.
And remember – We can each have more than one romantic partner in our lifetime. If this relationship ends, see it as a new beginning. Grieve, heal, and rise in love again.
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