Do you feel like you fell out of love with your spouse or intimate partner? Are you now feeling really annoyed by her or his mannerisms or idiosyncrasies? Does it seem like your relationship is in a rut and perhaps you feel bored? When you think about your intimate partner, do negative thoughts and feelings get in the way of seeing what you used value and still could appreciate? If you are wanting to get past feeling turned off, then turn to these strategies to regain feelings of healthy intimacy.
Here are three ways to feel closer to that special person in your life again:
1. Ditch the concept of "falling in love"!
Yes, I realize the title of this post is "Three Ways to Fall Back in Love." Please understand, however, that I hoped this widely popularized, yet overly simplified phrase (no offense) would get your attention. I really do get the appeal of the concept of "falling in love." Heck, to be very open with you, I still love what are popularly referred to as "chick flicks" with "eternal love" and "every dream comes true," endearing Hollywood, themes. They feel good to watch, but they are not reality.
From what I have seen for over 28 years as a couples therapist, the notion of "falling in love" is as set up to fall out of love. Instead look at your relationship as a sacred bond between two people that needs commitment and acceptance for the inevitable struggles and challenging times.
2. Be mindful of how you think about your intimate partner.
How you think about your relationship strongly influences how close you will feel or not feel. As I discuss in my book, Why Can't You Read My Mind?, toxic thoughts will likely destroy loving relationships. For example, if your spouse is late, reflexively thinking, "I can never count on you" is a sure way to create distance, distracting emotional overreactions, and disconnection from one another. It would likely be emotionally healthier, for example, to say to yourself, "Yes, he tends to have some difficulty managing time, but it helps to refocus myself on his good intentions, loyalty, and the support he gives me with my stressful job situation."
3. Remember that empathy is just as important as love.
The day a couple comes into my office with either partner saying, "She (or he) takes too much time and energy to really understand how I feel from my point of view," will be the day I stop doing couples therapy. I can tell firsthand that no one complains about their intimate partner being too empathetic. Empathy helps overcome toxic thoughts by putting the undesirable attributes of your partner in a reasonable perspective. Yes, for example, your spouse may be overly sensitive but it is this same sensitivity that makes him care about others in such a loyal way.
The bottom line: Let go of the "falling in love" fantasies, be mindful of your toxic thoughts, and lead with empathy, and you will not lose sight of your love.
Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist and professional coach with over 28 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, adult, couples, and family therapy.