Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

too comfortable

Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

Many of us have been there. You love someone but you aren’t in love with them. The relationship is very comfortable. There may be places where you don’t see eye-to-eye. But by and large, you have fun together, run a good household or just enjoy each other’s company. The person is perhaps a good choice for a mate. They are stable and kind. But that euphoric, weak-in-the-knees feeling has left the building. So should you stay in a relationship that is just comfortable but doesn’t give you fireworks or butterflies? There are really two schools of thought on this. The first is a very practical view. That is, stay with your partner. The reason, there are relationships and even marriages who do have that spark. Also, the candle that burns twice as bright often lasts half as long. Then a terrible breakup occurs and you are left all alone. The other scenario is one waits around forever. Instead of having the loving experiences available, one waits alone for a proposition which may never come. Why not, as the song says, love the one you’re with?

Sometimes these relationships that are comfortable used to have novelty. Kids, careers and a pileup of years have made them too comfortable. Here experts say the spark can be rekindled. One way to do so is to share novel experiences together. Travel to exotic lands, take part in exciting activities like sky diving and bungee jumping, learn a new skill together such as cooking or swing dancing or interact through a new sport such as karate or kayaking. These can reignite the spark. Another way is through reminiscing. Some relationship experts say merely having a date night can do it. This will inject some romance—you know interacting as a couple again instead of the person who takes care of a list of household duties. Then there are those who use their sexual interests to jumpstart their relationship. They may start to talk about and fulfill each person’s deep seeded fantasies, the ones they never spoke to another soul about. Some couples explore tantric sex or BDSM together to reignite that spark.

But then there is another school of thought, held by the fiercely independent who are not afraid of making it on their own. This type is perfectly happy by themselves. They won’t accept anything less than earth shattering love. If they work at it and can’t get it from their relationship then they end it, sooner or later. If the person they are dating doesn’t provide this feeling than they’d rather not be dating them. This type is generally focused on an important passion, mission, artistic pursuit, their children or career. They say if you really aren’t in love then you are just going through the motions, or else settling for a paltry mediocrity. Which interpretation is the right one? That all depends on the kind of person you are. If you are fiercely independent why not go for the love that will fill the space in your heart? See if you can reignite it with your current lover before you do something drastic. But if they cannot fulfill you why stay with them? Those who are a bit more practical and believe their relationship suits their needs should instead try and find ways to rekindle the flames. For more on this read the book, Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix.

A Beautiful Wife Leads to a Happy Marriage

Happy Couple

A Beautiful Wife Leads to a Happy Marriage

What qualities would you most associate with a blissful union? Love? Commitment? Trust? Good communication skills? Or just the wife being hot? A beautiful wife leads to a happy marriage, one study claims. Conducted by psychologist Andrea Metzer, over 450 newly married couples were tracked for four years. The question on the researcher’s minds, does having an attractive spouse lead to a happier marriage? It turned out to be true, but only for guys.

Physical attractiveness didn’t have any effect on the women directly. But the husband’s satisfaction increased his wife’s satisfaction. So indirectly it did have a positive effect. This study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This isn’t the only study to reach this conclusion. In 2008 the Relationship Institute at UCLA did a study. Here they found that men felt lucky having married an attractive wife. This lead to a high level of marital satisfaction, as the husbands feeling lucky treated their wives well, increasing their satisfaction level too. But when the husband felt more attractive than the wife, the opposite was true. They didn’t feel the need to help her out.

Certainly, being attracted to your mate is important. There are different kinds of attraction however. And everyone finds something different attractive. But even physical attraction, though it can lead to overall satisfaction, isn’t enough to keep a marriage together. A deep bond of respect, trust, commitment and love are also necessary. Without them, many other problems will come between spouses. Though an important point, this study could also illuminate us on another issue that helps cause the demise of marriage, letting ourselves go and taking our partner for granted. Just because one is married doesn’t mean keeping ourselves up is over. Of course, we should be eating right and exercising for the benefit of our health. But we should also take proper care of ourselves so that our spouse still finds us attractive.

The marriage isn’t the end of wooing, wooing should still be an ongoing process to keep things fresh, and to keep the spark alive. Wear something nice around the house just for your spouse’s benefit. Every once in a while put on some perfume or cologne just to drive them wild. Reinvest in keeping your partner interested and attracted to you and loads of other benefits will come along. For more advice read, I Still Do: Bring back that Spark- Learn How You Can Rekindle the Flame Forever by Dr. Joshua Osenga, Ed.d.

What you learn after a Decade of Marriage

happiness

What you learn after a Decade of Marriage

If you get to your ten year anniversary you can feel pretty lucky, especially nowadays with so many marriages ending in divorce. Lots of people will ask what the secret is when they hear of marriage longevity. And lots of couples too look back and reflect on what it was that kept them together for so long. Relationships are hard to keep on track and sometimes easy to derail. But all those who make it always say that it was worth it. The first thing to remember is that you are on each other’s side. Of course your spouse can drive you crazy. But don’t blow up at them, especially in front of other people.

You need to always have each other’s back. That’s what a marriage is for isn’t it, a safe haven against the volleys of a heartless world? Forgiveness, help and the benefit of the doubt should be the norm in your married life. Next, don’t keep track of who owes what to whom. This will always make you disappointed, especially if the other person isn’t keeping track. And who exactly is to evaluate what each person does for one another and its weight against other same such things? Don’t act the martyr. But don’t try to get over on your mate and win all the time, or else it will come back to bite you in the end.

Understand that no one is perfect. Don’t try to be perfect in your marriage and don’t expect your spouse to be. You will see each other at your best and worst. The most important thing is to be there for one another to celebrate those victories or to help scrape them off the pavement, get them cleaned up and try to cheer them up. Don’t treat one another as children. If you start babying your spouse they will resent you for it. You are putting yourself in a position of power over them. What’s more, you are diminishing them. Doing this can only spell resentment in the future and one party leaving. Instead, make sure that each party feels respected and has equal say in what is going on. One party being good at one thing can handle that for the marriage while the other can handle something they are good at, instead of setting them up for a fall and making them feel like a child.

You should at all times be helping to hold up your spouse rather than bringing them down. Go outside your comfort zone now and then to keep things interesting. But don’t be afraid of being comfortable either. If things feel boring don’t blame the relationship, find a way to put a spark back into things and reconnect. If you want to know more tips on making your marriage great and keeping it where it needs to be, read Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John M. and Julie Schwartz Gottman.

Guaranteed Relationship Boosters

winter

Guaranteed Relationship Boosters

Has your relationship been less than stellar lately? Or you just want to know what to do to make it last? Here are some guaranteed relationship boosters that will propel you to a higher level and keep you there. First, make sure you go on dates. But don’t just do it to do it. Plan it out together. Make it something you are both interested in. Studies have shown that when couples pursue common interests they build and deepen their connection and feel a sense of excitement in their relationship.

Step out of your comfort zone and do something daring. That feeling that gets your heart racing together will also put the spark back into your relationship. It also shows how much you care when you tailor a date specifically to your partner’s wants, likes and desires. That too can deepen your bond. As with everything, it’s the thought put into it that your lover will appreciate most. Keep the lines of communication open and constantly flowing. Check in with your lover just to see how things are going in their life, if there is anything you can do for them and how they feel about your relationship. Ask them open ended questions and really get to know your partner. Consider things from their point of view and validate their feelings, opinions and concerns when you agree.

Understand that no one is perfect. Just because your relationship feels perfect at the moment, enjoy it and cherish it but don’t expect it to last forever. Everyone has their baggage. Everyone has flaws. But honestly communicate, confront, and actively pursue overcoming your flaws, or at least mitigating them. Help your partner to do the same. Don’t chastise or belittle their efforts. Praise them, encourage them and use positive reinforcement. Do things cooperatively. If you set up a competitive or adversarial relationship it will erode trust. At a certain point it will get ugly and it won’t be fun anymore. You should have each other’s back, not compete side by side.

It’s the little compliments and gestures that count, no matter what your partner’s gender. If there is something particularly attractive about them today, tell them so. Let them know you like them because of who they are, and the details about them tell that. Whether it’s the shade of their eyes, their dimples when they smile, or the freckles across their nose that drive you gaga, perhaps it’s the way they look dreamily out a window or the flash of their smile…whatever it is, let them know that you love it, and they’ll tell you what they love about you. Do little things for one another. Show your appreciation even if it’s something they are supposed to do. Cherish one another and your relationship will soar. For more relationship advice read, Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work by Matthew McKay, Ph.D., Patrick Fanning, and Kim Paleg, Ph.D.

Are you More Roommates than Spouses?

Young couple sitting on bed separated by blue line

Are you More Roommates than Spouses?

In some relationships the two get along fine. They’ve raised kids together perhaps, have a house, pets, even go on vacation. But there isn’t any sex anymore. The spark is gone. Are you two more roommates than spouses? According to the director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family, and Couples Education Diane Solee, MSW couples don’t know what to expect out of long term relationships. She recently told WebMD in an interview, “It’s so normal to hit the doldrums. In a way, you should be smug about it. You have a partner who is not bringing drama into your life. You’re not going to alcohol or cocaine treatment classes. You are in a very good place. Realizing all that, your job is to get out of the doldrums. You may have gotten into a rut.” Don’t take comfort in the rut however. Professor of sociology, psychiatry, and behavioral medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle Pepper Schwartz, PhD says that without sex couples could encounter an even bigger disconnect. So how do you know you’re in a rut? According to Schwartz, “You’re leading parallel lives, and don’t see each other anymore. You tell everything important to your friends but not to each other. Those are really big problems, and you’ve got to tend to them.”

Negative comments toward one another are a sign that this marriage is in the doldrums. “If you’re bitchy, if you treat each other with contempt, it’s a warning sign. It may not happen all the time, but it happens often. It’s because people start to feel neglected, disappointed. They had expectations of what marriage should be like, and this is not what they’d hoped for,” says Schwartz. This feeling of monotony toward the relationship may actually cover up deeper seeded feelings of frustration or even anger. On this Schwartz said, “Those deeper feelings have to be dealt with. I’m not talking about deep therapy; it can happen in one or two visits. But there has to be a refocusing on the relationship… a renewal of what this marriage is supposed to be.” Both parties have to recommit to the relationship. You both have to explore your feelings and your sexuality together. Sit down and have a long talk. Start having date nights. Do something exciting that is outside both of your comfort zones. Studies have shown this can recreate the feelings many couples have when they first get together. Talk about your fantasies and try to fulfill them for one another. Make plans for a getaway. Find other ways to reconnect too, over mutually shared interests and hobbies. A marriage needs to be invested in before you can get what you want out of it. Don’t expect it to be like it was. Make it the best it ever could be at the stage you are at now. For more on this topic, read Sex and Love for Grownups by Sallie Foley, MSW.