Rediscovering Your Mate
- Dr. David Hawkins Director, The Marriage Recovery Center
- 2011 11 Jan
It is easy to become bored. We become bored with our jobs. We become bored with our homes. We become bored with our cars. And sadly, we even become bored with our mates.
Perhaps it is the routine—doing the same things every day. We are with him or her everyday of our lives, day in a day out, month in and month out, and year in and year out. The delirious days of our first meeting drift lazily into our distant memory and the distance between us grows.
Few notice the drift happening. Many couples begin drifting, becoming caught up in the various distractions of life: getting kids to soccer practice, cooking meals, care of the home and even church life. Slowly, inexorably, drift happens.
One day, however, you notice the change. You look across the table at your mate and don't feel anything. You're not attracted to him/ her. You're not excited to be with him/ her. You wonder where the feelings have gone. But, if you're like most other couples, you do nothing.
"We have nothing in common," Sherri said to me recently, referring to her relationship to her husband, David. "I don't know what's happened, but we don't have much to say to each other anymore."
"I doubt it happened all at once," I said to her. "Tell me about the drift that has taken place."
"I don't know," she said pensively. "I can't put my finger on when it happened. It just seems like it has gotten worse. I'm not sure what to do about it."
"Why don't you do what you did at the start of your relationship?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" she said, appearing confused.
"Well, at the beginning of your relationship you went on a hunt to discover what made your mate tick. You asked question after question about his life."
"But, that was then and this is now," she said. "So much distance has grown between us. I don't know how to bridge the gap anymore."
"But I think you do," I said. "It takes the same kind of dedication you had when you first met David. Are you willing to apply that same kind of dedication again?"
"I guess," Sherri said slowly. "But, I really am not sure what you mean. Can you tell me a bit more about what David and I can do to regain the spark?"
"Let me share a few tips on what you and David can do," I said. "Let me reassure you that you two can find your way back to each other with a little effort."
"Okay," she said. "What are some things we can do?"
First, become intentional about rediscovering your mate. Learning about anything takes an initial decision and intentionality. When we make a solid decision on anything, we set aside time, determine what we want to accomplish, set specific goals and follow through. Talk to your mate about a decision to become best friends again.
Second, cultivate an inquisitiveness and curiosity about your mate. Even if you don't feel interested at the start, you can cultivate an interest in your mate. While you may sense they aren't the same person you married, neither are you the same. These changes and differences can now be a source of interesting discovery. If you sense you don't know them, don't fret. In many ways this can make the experience all the more interesting.
Third, experiment with new experiences. The foremost creator of boredom is an absence of sensual experiences. It is very difficult to be bored when our senses are awake and alive. Recently my wife Christie and I went on a weekend away. We left work behind, slept in, went to the movies, out to dinner and even wandered around a bookstore. We worked out at a gym, browsed the local shops, and we talked about these experiences. Our buckets were filled with experiences, excitement of our senses and simply being available to each other.
Fourth, see annoyances in a new light. Yes, your mate is different from you. They laugh differently, think differently, even believe different things. These differences are not a hurdle to overcome but aspects to be appreciated. Don't try to coax your mate to be more like you, but see differences through new eyes as sources of new energy for your relationship.
Finally, give one another feedback on your experiences. Learning to date again is really a matter of trial and error. In the early days of dating you gave each other consistent feedback on your experiences. You based future decisions on earlier ones. If something was exciting, you did it again. If it was less than exciting, you changed directions. The same applies today. You and your mate are fully capable of awakening your excitement for each other, but it will take trial and error, seeking experiences you both find pleasurable.
Like onions with many layers, each of us is filled with different dreams, ideas and feelings waiting to be discovered. Are you willing to go on a quest to discover your mate again? If you will invest time and energy in this endeavor, you will enjoy a wonderful journey back to a loving relationship.
Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.MarriageRecoveryCenter.com and YourRelationshipDoctor.com. You'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.
Dr. David Hawkins is the director of the Marriage Recover Center where he counsels couples in distress. He is the author of over 30 books, including 90 Days to a Fantastic Marriage, Dealing With the CrazyMakers in Your Life, and Saying It So He'll Listen. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.