Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dating Your Spouse/Partner

People have a natural tendency to stop dating each other when they enter into a serious relationship.  They become comfortable with one another.  They decrease (or end) many of the behaviors which got them into the relationship in the first place.  With such common practice, it is no wonder why many are unfulfilled in long-term committed relationships.

Why do relationships change over time?  
Sage advice from my mother - "Do only those things in a relationship that you can/will continue in the long run." This statement resonates an important feature for most relationships.  If someone was worth the effort during the chase, why are they no longer worth the effort once they are caught?  

Research on conflict between couples highlights the loss of behavioral patterns that existed during courtship.  Couples who have been married for many years no longer act like newlyweds.  

They may rarely:

  • Express genuine affection (hugs, kisses, love play)
  • Show how much they appreciate each other (love notes, doing things for no reason)
  • Display joy when they see each other (especially after being apart for some time)
  • Work on their friendship (ask about goals, dreams, desires)
  • Date (go out without children, share new experiences)
  • Share positive feelings
  • Surrender to let the other person win
  • See sex as a fun activity instead of a chore
  • Make their relationship a priority

Relationships are NOT EASY and they require HARD work full of emotion, thought, and action. This is especially true for long-term relationships.  Effort must continue throughout and it must be reciprocal with both continuing to woo each other (even if at different times) and not take each other for granted.  These are the things that make the beginning of relationships exciting and gratifying. 

How to continue dating your spouse/partner:
  1. Practice the bulleted behaviors above 
  2. Work on the Marriage Plan (even if you are not married) as a couple
  3. Follow John Gottman's Magic Five Hours and the 5 to 1 Ratio of Couple Interactions
  4. Enjoy each other!