Without even realizing or knowing how it happened sometimes couples find that they have gotten themselves stuck in a rut. This is very common and it can happen cyclically in the relationship. The couple’s rhythm inevitably sets this up to happen.
Some things that affect this phenomenon include: How the couple manages itself around the calendar year: Does it take into consideration the inherent high and lows that come with different months, seasonal work, school being in session, and holiday season busyness to prevent burnout and power struggles and reenergize and rejuvenate? Does it take a look overtime to better manage and schedule demands, activities, vacations, and personal business (i.e., surgeries)? Does it prepare for difficult times and get additional help? Does it take advantage of down times by planning time-off from the everyday and doing fun and stimulating things?
How the couple uses opportunities for fun: Are the partners open to try new things, meet new people, and do something different? Do they accept social invitations? Do they entertain? Do they have a joint hobby? Do they take advantage of what the seasons offer to spice up their interactions and routines? Do they consistently schedule and allow time for fun?
The way the couple structures their activities and routines: Does the couple take into consideration the partners’ different circadian cycles, styles of processing information, learning styles, tolerance levels for stimuli, individual basic needs for sleep and eating, and preferences for relaxing so both their needs are met on a consistent basis? Does the couple set a consistent routine in the home so there are less power struggles and inefficiency and therefore less wasted energy and resources? Do they have assigned and negotiated chores and responsibilities to prevent areas of conflict? Is their household organized and warm inviting relaxed interactions?
How they set up and pursue goals: Do the partners have clear individual, couple and family goals? Are these negotiated fairly and revisited often to ensure they still meet their needs? Are they realistic? Are they pursued in a balanced effort? Does their decision making flow from their plans and goals? Do they align themselves with resources and take advantage of opportunities so ensure they achieve their goals? Do they take calculated and informed risks? Do they follow their dreams?
How they manage projects and time: Do the partners have individual interests and demands that are stimulating and challenging? Do they have proper support in their endeavors? Do they take on realistic tasks in terms of skills required, time allotted, and number? Do they give appropriate time to different tasks, demands, and needs? Are their efforts focused and targeted? Do they take necessary breaks from their endeavors to engender new perspectives and allow flow of creativity?
How the partners maintain their individuality, take care of themselves and their personal needs: Do they have individual and couple friends? Do they have their own hobbies or interests? Do they pursue personal growth and accomplishments by attending conferences or seminars, going back to school, going to tournaments or doing races or walks, going to psychotherapy, doing avid reading, getting a life coach or a personal trainer, joining a support group, journaling, being involved in their religion, meditating and praying, getting involved in their community, or volunteering? Do they ask for help? Do they enlist support? Do they establish appropriate boundaries? Do they express their needs and feelings? Is their life balanced? Do they address self-defeating habits? Do they establish and maintain healthy habits? Do they pamper and treat themselves?
How they demonstrate their Affection and Love towards each other: Do the partners have healthy communication and conflict resolution skills? Can they express their needs, wants, wishes, likes and dislikes? Can they get their needs met? Can they ask for what they need? Can they be there for each other? Do they resolve conflicts? Do they reserve judgment and are accepting and forgiving instead? Are they patient and tolerant? Are they free with their compliments? Do they easily show appropriate affection? Are they warm, sensitive and empathic? Are they emotionally and physically available? Do they say I Love You? Do they do loving gestures? Do they give appropriate gifts? Are they gentle and caring? Do they pamper and treat each other? Are they respectful and considerate? Are they thoughtful? Do they make love at least once a week? Do they take care to look their best for each other? Do they make romantic gestures? Do they spring surprises? Are they playful? Do they sensually tease? Do they add mystery to some of their interactions? Do the partners do these on a consistent basis?
Couples can go through a couple of ruts a year or can be stuck in a huge rut for a long time. The more neglect the relationship experiences the more likely these ruts are to happen and stick around. The above categories show areas where couples can be neglectful setting themselves up for a potential rut.
Don’t fall into this trap! Take stock of your approach to relating and creating a life together and see where you might need to start making some changes!
~ Your MetroRelationship™ Assignment
Review the above list with your partner and together identify a category you believe is leading your relationship to a rut. Identify three behaviors you can each do to start creating changes in this area.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma K. Viglucci. All rights reserved.
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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and a variety of Successful Couple™ content that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly Connection Notes in your inbox with Personal Growth and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com.