Relationships can be hard work.
Sometimes, no matter how much you love each other, the stresses of life, of kids, of broken down cars or leaky ceilings get a little too much and the distance between you seems to grow and grow until you’re at a point where you’re not sure you’re on the same page any more, let alone in the same book.
A question I see often in my mum groups, is ‘can I fall back in love with my partner again?’
I think the answer is yes. Absolutely.
Even in the few short years with B, there have been times that I’ve gone to him and told him that I feel so far away from him and that I’m not sure how we find our way back to each other but that we need to figure out how to fix it because I love him too much to let go.
We’ve both been in relationships in the past where we’ve ended up living more like flatmates than lovers or even partners – neither of us are willing to let our relationship get to that point. We’re both aware of the work that needs to go in, in order to avoid ending up in that situation again.
A chain email went around a while back (…. when email chains were a thing – I’m old ok!?!) and it was the story of a couple whose relationship had completely broken down.
Every conversation turned into an argument and both sides were filled with resentment, frustration and anger over what they weren’t getting out of their relationship, and over what they both felt they were putting in.
The man realised one morning in the shower that his marriage was about to end and he cried. He knew he didn’t want to lose his wife and he also knew that the only thing he had the power to change in the situation was himself.
The next morning he woke and asked his wife what he could do to make her day a little easier. She snapped and angrily told him that if he really wanted to help, he could clear out the garage like she’d been asking him to for years.
So that day, he did.
The next morning, he asked the same question. This time, his wife looked at him strangely but still angry, she told him he could help out with the dishes.
So that night after dinner, he did.
This went on for the rest of the week until one morning he woke up and began to ask her again. She stopped him, crying and asked why he was being so nice to her, that it should be her asking him that question – she apologised for how bad things had become and said that the thing she wanted that day, was for the two of them to spend the day together.
They was still so much love there – they had drifted so far from each other that neither knew how to take that first step.
It’s been years since I read the email, but I still remember it so clearly.
There have been many times in my relationship that I’ve felt like I’m doing so much more, like I’m dealing with the kids more, like I’m worrying about the budget more, like I’m organising more, listening more, like I’m trying just that little bit harder. Times when my focus is on what I’m doing for us or what I’m getting out of what I’m putting in.
Love doesn’t work like that.
Love isn’t just about me, it’s about us.
When we begin to drift away from each other, this story always comes back to me. If I’m not getting what I want from our relationship, B probably isn’t either. So, I ask what I can do to make his day a little easier.
I go back to his love language and figure out what it is I can do to show him I love him, in his way of perceiving it.
Then we communicate, plan date nights, schedule in bubble baths (yep. Romance at it’s finest. We have 4 kids – everything is on a schedule!!) and figure out how we can find our way back to each other again, together.
Love is easy, but relationships are hard.
When things get tough, it can be almost impossible to figure out where to start getting things back on track – especially when you’re as stubborn as I am.
Start with “how can I help?” and keep helping, and keep talking, and keep loving.