Move Out of Roommate Status
A common sentiment I hear in couples work is, "I feel like we are just roommates." As we all move through the stressors of life, we often go from feeling connected and and full of passion to feeling as if we are business partners. If your relationship seems to be mainly comprised of household chores, a taxi service for your children, a numbers game to meet your bottom line, and near constant fatigue, you might have slipped into roommate status. Let's chat about the shifts you need to get your relationship back on track.
Loneliness -- this, my friends, is the culprit of greater disconnection. Typically, our relationships begin with feelings of attraction, as well as a focus on learning everything we can about each other. There is excitement, adventure, and novelty.
Then, we commit to a lifetime together, and we slip into routine and navigating life stressors. As we start to bring babies home and climb the career ladder, we tend to put our relationship on the back burner. Or maybe the stressors bring a great deal of conflict, and we start to disconnect from one another to keep the peace in our household. Whatever the reason, the result is often two people sharing a home, but feeling very alone.
However it starts, many couples are surprised at the level of distance two people can feel while living in the same space. I've heard many stories about separate rooms, separate meals, separate activities, and minimal communication.
For many, both partners are suffering from the same fears. My spouse doesn’t love me anymore. My spouse doesn’t find me attractive anymore. My spouse wants to leave the relationship. As "the story we tell ourselves" focuses on rejection*, we as individuals tend to pull back even farther. It is ingrained in us to do this to avoid being hurt. Pulling away farther reinforces the story, and creates more distance. However, both partners are often having the same experience, but both are afraid to be the first to try reconnecting.
I want everyone to pause a moment and take inventory of your relationship. Are you feeling like you have a partner, or a roommate? Does your relationship with your person still have some spark, or are you struggling with the blahs?
For those of you who answered spark and partnership, keep doing what you are doing. You must have some daily/weekly routines that are keeping you connected.
For those anywhere near the “blah” roommate zone, start with one shift. I want you to intentionally dedicate time together. Start with as little as ten minutes. During this time, you are not allowed to make grocery lists, talk about the kids, discuss finances, or do any other businesses-related activities.
Instead, I want you to spend quality time. Maybe that‘s an evening stroll, or maybe foot massages. Maybe that's sneaking out for ice cream without the kids. Maybe it’s kissing like you did when you were dating. Maybe it’s planning a getaway. This time needs to be device-free and distraction-free, and it needs to be as close to daily as possible. If you and your person take the time to be together, you will be surprised by what a difference ten minutes makes.
In recent years, there is much more awareness of the value of self-care. Relationship-care is also vital to our overall health and happiness. As we head into 2020, prioritize making the shifts needed in your relationship. We continually grow as individuals and as couples, so there is always room to shift. Don't forget to sign up for our e-mail list to stay up to date on our latest offerings.
*Brene Brown introduced this concept in her Netflix special, "The Call to Courage." For more on this topic, check out this blog: https://www.thethrivingrelationship.com/post/the-story-we-tell-ourselves