Often, when a woman feels a distance manifesting between her and her partner, instinct can easily take over leading to the beginning of a “pursuit.” Often times this means one partner begins literally following and remaining close to the other. Suddenly every moment must be spent together, every thing must be discussed at length and every argument – even the most minor and typically insignificant – is amplified. Dear friend, this is called a reactive response. What’s more is that this kind of response can wind up causing further damage, and creating further distance. That’s why I want to talk with you about shifting from reactivity to proactivity and seeing distance differently. Because, believe it or not, a relationship funk, or rut, can be an incredible opportunity for growth. Keep reading to learn how to clear the fog between you and your partner, reconnect and get back on track together.
1. Commit to Fostering the Solution Instead of Making a Diagnosis
When one partner feels as though the other seems distant or uninterested, the first question that pops into her mind tends to be, “Why?” This question is closely followed by, “What did I do?” I am challenging you to let those questions go. There are many reasons why someone may seem quieter, more distant or less engaged. He could be stressed, under a lot of pressure at the office, he may be feeling sad about something completely unrelated to your relationship or just having an “off” week. It happens to all of us, but it’s a whole lot easier to recognize when it’s happening to someone else.
What I’m asking you to do is to commit to creating a solution to the problem instead of pursuing a diagnosis. While it’s absolutely important to understand the why behind someone’s actions or words, it’s not going to help you or your relationship to overanalyze every moment, invite criticism to the party, or hunt down one specific answer. Instead, channel your loving energy into giving your partner the support and attention he needs to get back to his usual, amazing self.
2. Be the Change You Want to See
You may be surprised to know just how much you and your partner feed off of one another. Your individual view of the world, approach to relationships, speaking style and mood greatly impacts those of your partner. Sometimes it can impact your partner in the way that you wind up sharing many of these habits and behaviours. When it comes to reconnecting with your partner and truly getting your day-to-day back on track, it’s important that you be the change that you want to see.
Take time to appreciate the micro moments that happen in your relationship. While a spontaneous weekend getaway may be fun and exciting, it’s the more “mundane” moments of everyday life that build and shape your partnership. Turn towards him when he speaks, practice active listening and show your authentic appreciation for his opinions, actions and love. Actively nurturing your relationship will inspire him to do the same. And, when he makes a bid for connection – such as sending you a mid-day text or giving you a kiss goodbye – take pause and allow yourself to be fully present.
3. Be Present, But Respect his Needs for Space
Like I mentioned, your immediate reaction may be to eliminate any and all space between the two of you. Instead of taking this approach, I urge you to be present and attentive while still respecting his need for space. Your partner is a unique human being with individual interests and the need for “me” time just like anyone else. There is a difference, however, between an hour spent playing video games or reading a book and days on end of physical and/or emotional separation.
Consider letting him know that you’ve noticed how busy you have both been lately and would love to spend more time together. Be honest and upfront, but avoid coming across as accusatory. Make a commitment to spend tomorrow evening together, even if it’s just cooking dinner and watching a movie at home. When tomorrow comes, ensure that you remain in the moment and present by removing distractions. If you have children, consider setting up a play date so you have the house to yourself. Leave your mobile phone on silent or, even better, place it in another room. When you’re on the couch watching the movie, leave your laptop put away and stay focused on enjoying the here and now.
4. Embrace Mindfulness
I cannot emphasize enough the importance or power of mindfulness. An incredibly effective practice in your individual life, the positive impact of mindfulness is limitless when it comes to relationships. I’ve written on the topic several times recently and strongly encourage you to explore those posts here. You will be amazed at the transformation that practicing a higher level of self-awareness, empathy and deep understanding can lead to.
A key aspect of bringing mindfulness to your relationship is committing to continuously growing not only your partnership but also your understanding of one another as individuals. The journey of getting to know each other doesn’t end when you move in with each other, say “I do” or even welcome your first child. Quite the opposite, this journey is a lifelong one. As you both evolve and grow as individuals, there will always be something new to discover. I encourage you to see this fact as a never-ending adventure packed full of excitement, opportunity and fulfillment.
5. Be Willing to Step Outside your Comfort Zone
Last but most definitely not least, I ask that you be willing to step outside your comfort zone. It can be all too easy to allow regular routine to take hold, and it’s so important to remember that what got you here isn’t necessarily going to move you forward. Engage as a partner and spend time exploring not only your shared passions or hobbies, but also those that your partner holds dear. Is he into car racing, but you can’t imagine waking up at 4AM to catch the European coverage? You guessed it; you may want to consider setting an alarm and spending that time together. Showing your support for your partner’s individual passions, and that his happiness leads to your happiness, can be a truly bonding experience. No you don't have to buy the T-shirt and become an insta-fan but being open to the reasons why he is passionate about different things/activities is great for bonding.
To your authenticity,