A complacent phase in your marriage is where intimate relationships go to die, where lovers become roommates, silence festers resentment. The mind begins to wonder who is getting the better version of my spouse. We have a choice to shake ourselves and our relationship out of these death sentences. It requires willing participants, honest work, and a commitment to grow. For better or worse, yes, you said that on that glorious wedding day when it was love and magic in the air. Commit to restoring, evolving, and pumping love into your marriage.
Choosing to have a proactive versus a reactive relationship will create a more harmonious, open, vulnerable, and communicative union. Both parties must be willing to leave egos at the door. Learning more about your partner, being receptive to change, and ready to hear constructive criticism is the goal. Switching from autopilot to manual control will not be easy; the temptation to regress into what is familiar can lie below the surface. Even if that familiar is chaotic, unfulfilling, and painful, our need for familiarity, sense of control and predictability can sway even the best attempts.
You and your partner must be open to the possibility you both have played a role in the deterioration of your marriage, ready to implement clear strategies to break out the complacency rut and consistency in continuing to educate yourselves on how to be a better person and mate.
My first advice is always seeking professional help. Therapy is an excellent asset to marriage. Therapy provides a neutral party trained to actively listen to both sides, provide a safe space, gives clear-cut tools for both people to do the work on, and consistent structure. It is not magic, so as with everything, both parties must fully commit to being all in.
Sometimes, however, we decide to take on the task of figuring it out ourselves, so I will say you can start by creating a safe space to hold an initial conversation. Negotiate a time and date to have that conversation on neutral ground. What is a neutral field? It is a place where both partners feel safe; it can be a room of the house that both partners feel they share equally. Choose a day and time that work for both sides. Write out three key points (not a laundry list) of what you need to start moving forward. Do not discuss what you want to talk about until you have agreed upon the time and location. It is essential not to go in-depth until the actual date of your conversation.
When deciding who speaks first, it sounds crazy, but flipping a coin can be a great ice breaker. A small action such as flipping a coin ensures one side does not feel the other is taking over the conversation out the gate. The goal is a balanced neutral ground. Both people should be sitting and facing each other. Distractions such as T.V., cellphones, computers, and other people should not be present. When speaking to each other, avoid using phrases like, "always, never, if you just, this is why." Discuss resolutions to achieve goals ensuring to find a comfortable middle ground. Listen to your partner's opinion, objectively. Take note that listening does not merely mean waiting for you to turn to interrupt. Set a date for your next conversation so that you can address each other progress.
Until your next meeting speak life into your marriage and each other. Show and tell your spouse, "You see them and their effort." Acknowledging effort boost your sposes self-esteem and confidence as well as showing them their work is not in vain. Some days will seem harder or longer. You will take several deep breaths, frustration may creep in, but on the flip side, the smiles will be genuine, the laughter heartfelt, and the intimate moments will grow as you put the work in to strengthen your marriage.
Great Book to read:
The First Step to a Successful Relationship By Daniel Beaver ©2011, 196 pages
Creating the Intimate Connection
The Basics of Emotional Intimacy By Daniel Beaver ©2011, 212 pages