Being Taken For Granted
The problem: When we start to date someone special, our focus is on that person and building the relationship. It can be one of the most joyous and happy times of our lives. As time passes though, we can start to take our partners for granted assuming that they will always be around and doing the things that they have always done in the relationship. This can be the start of a destructive pattern as one person may start to feel resentful that their contribution to the relationship is not being recognized or supported by the other person.
The solution: Whether you have been with your partner for 6 weeks or 60 years, make sure you take the time to tell them you appreciate them, their efforts and that you really enjoy spending time with them. Thank them for when they do something such as the washing or ironing and help out when you can. You are likely to find that when you start thanking your partner for the ‘little things’ it won’t be long before you are also appreciated in return.
The problem: In the beginning, we listen with eagerness to everything the other person tells us, we laugh at every joke or anecdote and file away in our minds every experience or story that we learn about their life. But after awhile, we start to ‘tune out’ a little as we hear repeated stories or comments. This can affect the way that we communicate with our partners by not listening to what they are saying. Poor communication causes frustration and friction in relationships.
The solution: Switch off the television, radio, playstation, mobile telephone and sit in front of your partner so you are looking at each others faces so that you are not only hearing words but also reading the body language of the other person. By giving your partner complete attention you can both communicate effectively in a short period of time without anyone having to repeat what they are saying because you are actively listening. As a couple you should try to develop a time every day or every week where you sit down and talk about things that have been happening, how you are feeling, what has been troubling you and what is likely to happen in the next week (the kids are back at school, Tim needs to see the dentist) etc…
The problem: At the start of the relationship, the two of you couldn’t keep your hands off each other and the chemistry sizzled. Now with two small children, you barely have time to greet each other in the mornings or the energy to stay awake past their bedtime. When intimacy is lacking, the relationship between the couple can often be strained as one partner may feel that the other partner is no longer providing them with the love and reassurance that they experience at the start.
The solution: Intimacy is not just about sex – it is about being close to your partner and can include kisses, hugs, holding hands, giving massages, stroking backs, going for walks together and generally spending time together doing things you both enjoy but as a couple. While our lives are often so busy and if you add in small children, you may not be able to find the time nor energy to relive those sexual marathons of your dating days. But if you are sitting watching television together, holding hands and a few kisses here and there can provide the intimacy that a couple needs to remind themselves of why they are together.
The problem: When you were younger and in love and didn’t have a mortgage and family, you could spend hours together browsing flea markets, going to the beach and dining out. But now it seems that with both of you working, being parents and trying to keep up with friends and family members, as well as participating in the local football club and the school P&C – there is never any time for just the two of you. When you are both stretched and involved with other activities, a couple can often feel the strain.
The solution: Write down a list of all of your family commitments and the day/time that is taken up by the activity. Try to cut out a few activities and replace them with activities for the whole family or for just the two of you. When you book in activities in your diary, block out sections of time each week just for the two of you. Perhaps instigate a ‘date night’ where the two of you head out to a restaurant together, see a movie or just have a lovely meal at home undisturbed by television, the radio or any other activity. We often prioritise time demands made of us by outside sources when we should be prioritising time spent with our partners and our families.
The problem: When we become a couple, we often feel that it is just the two of us but not far into the relationship, we discover that our families are part of it as well. Family members can mean well but may actually end up interfering in the choices a couple make. Unwanted advice, although given with the best intentions, can cause problems for a couple. This can result in external pressure on the relationship and could generate a few arguments between the couple and/or the other family members.
The solution: As a couple you need to have discussed and agreed upon your position and assert this to your family members. You must present a united and strong front if you want to minimize the disruption to your lives now and in the future. Just as parents need to define boundaries for their children, couples need to define boundaries with their extended family members on what is or isn’t appropriate behaviour.
If you are having relationship difficulties that you are finding a challenge to manage, please seek assistance early through a counselling service such as Relationships Australia that have professionally trained and experienced counsellors that can assist couples and families. If you seek help early, you may be able to minimize disruption to your family and your relationship. Call 1300 364 277 for more information or to book an appointment.