A large number of couples who ask me to help them improve their relationship tell me that they have become strangers, that they have drifted apart. They tell me how they both have their own interests and friendships and that they enjoy these and that they feel it is good that they have some independence.
This is for the most part very true, it does usually help a relationship when both parties have their own lives too. Couples often go on to tell me that they also see a down side to having their own life, at the cost of being a couple, they tell me that they don’t have any shared interests or friends and that they don’t spend much time together and seem to have drifted apart. They usually say that they want to improve their relationship and get closer again.
This is very common in long term relationships, finding a healthy balance can be a challenge. We all have different needs in terms of our personal interests and how much time we need to spend with our partner, and how much time we need alone for it to feel right.
The reasons couples may spend less time together are actually easy to understand, here are some of the main reasons:
- Different social circles and friendships
It is often a good idea to try to make friends with another couple who woulld also benefit from doing this together and with another couple. Most couples need this kind of friendship, it allows them to do things together whilst having someone else to talk to. We can all spot the married couple sitting in a restaurant having a meal together but hardly speaking to each other. This is common as all the conversation has already taken place at home. having the company of another couple can make for more interesting conversation.
- Financial pressures
In these depressive days of austerity measures and rising prices many couples who work full time may spend all their time and energy on making a living, paying the mounting household bills and paying for life’s essentials This can leave little in the way of leisure money, or for the things which may be considered unaffordable luxuries. Often the first thing to suffer in times of financial difficulties is spending money on ourselves or our partner.
Bringing up children is one of the major issues we experience in our lives. It is a very long term commitment takes a lot of energy and resources. There are no real breaks or holidays from parenting, it can be a life long role, depending how well we do it, or how lucky we are. Doing things as a family will help, but a couple need to have some time out from parenting, some time to be a couple again. A date night alone, whether its at home, with the children looked after by a friend or relative at their place, or whether you go out for a few hours and have a babysitter look after your children, will help you to keep the relationship healthy and not lose that aspect of your existence.
- Work or career
Career minded people can have real problems balancing their work and home life or personal life. Maybe you are not career minded but feel the need in these times of lower job security, to do more hours than you would like to. Not everyone has a job where clocking in and out is how it works, our colleagues can pile the pressure on by staying at work for extra unpaid hours, this often creates bad feeling or pressure on everyone else to stay late. Sometimes talking to your partner about this pressure will help them understand that its not that you want to stay at work, but that you feel you have to. Being a couple is always easier when the communication is effective.
It is usual for relationships to have times of exhilarating highs and conversely depressing lows, these will come and go in any relationship. What is important is to identify the lows and to do something to improve the relationship and stop the rot before it affects the relationship too much.
Regular chats as a couple on how things are feeling is just one strategy that works, a few minutes one a week when you have time to sit down and share how the relationship is feeling will improve your communication and let your partner know that you are keen to improve your relationship.
This in turn will stop small issues becoming major problems, try seeing the chats as a relationship check up or MOT for your personal life. You will see how helpful these regular chats can be to your relationship.
For help with how to introduce this strategy into your relationship, how to start them and how to use them effectively talk to a counsellor or life coach who is experienced in relationship counselling.
Written by Paul Parkin – Online Counsellor and Life Coach
‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’
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Paul Parkin Dip. Coun. I am a counsellor, therapist and life coach. I am passionate about helping people who are hurting or in crisis. My goal is to help people reach their full potential by providing affordable counselling online to people everywhere via my counselling website – Counsellors Online.
I have worked as a counsellor for the past 11 years, I have worked in several counselling settings, including – The National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) the NHS. North East Council on Addictions (NECA) and Several telephone helplines including The Samaritans.
I offer low cost marriage counselling and relationship counselling online.
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