Julia Zavalishina/Shutterstock
Source: Julia Zavalishina/Shutterstock

If you and your romantic partner have been together for a long time, there will likely be ups and downs in your degree of happiness with the relationship. 

Certain events and situations will make your relationship and your partner feel valuable to you. Other events and contexts may leave you wondering why on earth you're with this person. If this sounds vague and abstract at this point, let me offer some specific examples to illustrate what I mean, as well as some practical takeaways:

1. When you're unwell.

If your partner is great at taking care of you when you're sick, that'll be a time your relationship feels especially value to you. On the other hand, if they're hopeless as a caregiver when you're ill, then your relationship may not feel particularly valuable to you when you're under the weather. 

2. When you travel together.

If traveling together gives you a sense that your interests and rhythms are in sync, then your trips will make your relationship feel valuable to you. If you love globetrotting, but your partner hates to travel, or has completely different vacation preferences, shared trips will likely leave you feeling out of sync with each other. 

3. When you're at parties.

If you're socially awkward, but your partner is more socially skilled, contexts like parties might make your relationship feel particularly valuable, such as if your partner takes the lead in finding people to talk to when neither of you know many guests at an event.  

If your partner is aloof and refuses to accompany you to parties, then going to parties isn't going to make you feel like your relationship is valuable.

4. When you're working very hard.

Some partners are particularly good at being solid supportive "rocks" when their other half is immersed in a personal goal, such as studying for finals or working long hours to launch a business.  

Other people have a tendency to be engrossed in their own work, and don't pay as much attention to their partner's work, career pressures, and goals

5. When you're doing projects together, e.g., renovations.

Some partners work well together on practical projects. Others definitely don't.

What to Do With This Information

  • Knowing what situations lead to you feel in or out of sync with your partner can help you not to panic during the times you're not feeling deeply connected. Different relationships have different strengths.
  • If you know what helps you feel in sync and reminds you of why your relationship is valuable to you, then you can create more of those situations. Obviously you're not going to get sick on purpose, but if your relationship is in a lull, you might realize that taking on a project together would help you feel emotionally closer.
  • Try thinking back to the times you felt most connected to your partner and re-create some of those situations. For example, perhaps you felt closer to each other when you socialized together with friends more often, or when you did more cooking together.
  • You might consider minimizing situations that tend to leave you feeling disconnected. For example, learn from experience that you don't travel well together, and try more solo travel or traveling with friends.

Alice Boyes is author of The Anxiety Toolkit. Get the first chapter free when you subscribe to my blog articles.

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