It started all so well – back then – ten or fifteen years ago. You met at a gym. It was a total chance encounter. If it wasn’t for your friend’s party the night before, you would never have gone to the later session at the gym.
But you did. And there he was, smiling at you, smiling with you. You felt electric that morning and the exercises were not so hard. You remember it so well it was a Friday in March 2006.
The week after you made sure to go to the later session again. And he was there again. The same shy smile, the same clear blue eyes looking at you. Again, you felt electric that morning.
He asked you out after the third or fourth time you met and you have been together ever since.
The rest is history as they say.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments which take your breath away. Magic Moments. And that Friday morning in March, 2006 was one of those moments.
It’s been 13 years now – to the day – that you have first laid eyes on him. Time has passed so quickly.
Now you’ve been married for nearly 11 years and your children are ten and eight.
In the beginning you couldn’t get enough of each other. Each time you saw him you had butterflies in your stomach and longed for his touch.
Now it is completely different. It feels like you don’t know each other anymore.
Where is he? What is he doing? What is he thinking?
You have no idea.
In the beginning you spent every spare minute together. First only on weekends and the odd night during the week. Once you moved together, you were inseparable.
Now you hardly see each other. He’s working long hours, he’s doing his sport, meeting his mates and whatever time is left does not belong to just the two of you because you both have two children to look after.
Where is the deep connection you had with him? Where is the spark? The passion?
There is hardly any time or even an opportunity for good, mutual sex.
He wants it all the time. In the morning, in the evening, in the middle of the night.
You can’t. There is so much going around in your head – you just can’t concentrate on love making. He doesn’t understand. And this topic is a constant cause for tension between you – amongst others. So every now and then you give in to his demands.
You love him, you really do and you want him to be happy and you want to see the smile again on his face, in his eyes and in his embrace. The smile he threw at you 13 years ago.
Is he showing this smile to other women? You don’t know. You hope not, but you are not too sure.
There is nothing wrong in your relationship. It just feels flat.
He is a good father, he is a good person to be around with. Just no butterflies anymore.
Is this normal? Is this how it turns out for everyone?
You feel that you are drifting apart. Sure, he is a great father to your kids and he helps wherever he can. Where is the excitement?
What is going on?
This situation is so typical for many relationships. You fall in love, you move in together and you are happy. Then slowly but surely the routine sets in. The butterflies in the stomach have turned into a warm fuzzy feeling and you are content.
You can depend on each other and you pretty much know what the other person is thinking at that very moment.
And then this routine turns into boredom. One month goes by and it is just like the previous one. And a year later you look back and think: where has the time gone? Where is the excitement? Where is the passion?
The LoveCycle ™ gives you a good indication of how things are evolving in a lot of relationships whether married or not.
You see, the routine and boredom could easily turn into a phase where you’ve stopped talking and your relationship is just surviving.
It does not need to be that way and here’s what you could do right now…
It’s called the 168-challenge. Your task is to write down as exact as possible how you spent the 168 hours of last week or any typical week. It does not take you long. Five minutes – ten max.
Then you ask your partner to do the same.
Now it’s time to compare your lists and you’ll both will see very easily how much time there actually is just for the two of you. In my experience, for a busy couple like yourselves, this will be between zero and five hours.
This first step is crucial to understand – to see black on white – how much time there actually is for you to talk, to connect, to sleep together and to organise your life together.
Once you both have realised how difficult it is to make time for each other, you might want to change something to give yourselves more time for each other.
And I am pretty sure that your both will find something in your weekly calendar that could be reduced and replaced by time for the two of you. That’s what I call an Active Appointment.
And for further ideas of how to maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship you might want to grab a copy of my book.
It is not uncommon to hear women who participate in my online coaching program talk about their men and report “my husband is a closed book to me, I don’t know nor understand what is going on in his mind…”.
I’ve often heard confessions of finding this trait intriguing in the beginning of the relationship; he was the big mystery she had set out to solve.
But for some reason she couldn’t get through to him, or he didn’t let her in.
What started as being intriguing soon became concerning. How could you live with someone who does not open up, who does not share their thoughts and feeling and who does not talk?
Eventually this “you are a closed book” is uttered with a sigh of annoyance and accusation. Which is hard to fathom for both of partners.
He, in his view at least, did nothing wrong. So what’s the problem?
But for her, what once was intriguing feels now like too much hard work. She is tired of trying to extract his thoughts and feelings. She is not an expert psychologist. She has her own struggles to deal with. She too then withdraws into her shell.
Two people living two separate lives.
And that is not enough for a loving, intimate and respectful relationship. At least not in my view and obviously not in the view of many women who report these kind of scenarios.
The result is that not only the communication stalls, but also the connection and the commitment get lost along the way.
What you can do…
It is not about the amount of words you say. I know a lot of very talkative women who live together with a more quiet-type of man – and they are happy in their relationship. It is not about the quantity in your conversations ~ it is all about the quality.
If you are living with a “closed book” type of person, first of all accept them as they are. You won’t be able to change them. Only they themselves can change and open up.
Don’t expect that you can be an explorer solving the last big mystery on earth. If your partner is that kind of mystery to you, accept it and stay intrigued. You might not solve the mystery but eventually you might see a change.
And if you are the person, who everyone regards as a “closed book” maybe just try to be a bit more trusting. Understand that you are in a relationship because you don’t want to be alone, because you want to see, feel, touch and love another person.
Just being in a relationship does not cut it. You need to feed that relationship with thoughts, deeds, money and words. Communication is the fuel for any good relationship and good communication is a two-way street.
What’s the benefit?
This is a very challenging question you could ask yourself and try to see the situation from a different perspective. If you see or are part of this consistent “closed book” behaviour, you could ask “what is the benefit here?”
“What’s the point?” I hear you say, “There is no benefit at all!”
But wait, don’t give up so easily. There is a benefit. Maybe you need to look deeper and think deeper. Every behaviour that follows a repetitive pattern is a solution to something. Most of the time we just don’t know the deeper root cause of the behaviour.
When you look a little bit deeper you might be able to isolate some reasons behind his quietness.
Perhaps your partner was hurt in the past and has trust issues, but is learning to be vulnerable with you slowly over time.
Perhaps your partner is happy to just go with the flow, keen to make you happy and enjoying the path your relationship is taking.
Maybe your partner has just always been a quiet type – he is introverted with everyone but most himself when he is with you.
Your scenario will be personal to you and your partner, but there is a solution behind the behaviour pattern. Your realisation might not be the solution to the stalling communication in your relationship but it is a first step to better understanding your partner and their behaviour. With understanding comes acceptance and that would help both of you to be more relaxed.
If you feel that your partner is like a closed book and you don’t find it intriguing anymore, but just concerning, it is time to have a closer look at the state of your relationship as a whole.
My relationship quiz may give you the answer – it only takes 5 minutes to fill it in and you get your score at the end. It’s anonymous, it’s fun and it is amazingly accurate.
Afterwards you could ask your partner to have a go as well and you could compare scores and insights, which is a great starting ground for talking about your relationship and more.
I was listening to a fantastic audiobook yesterday and the author, Steve Chandler, was speaking (writing) about the power of your mind. He discussed the “17 Lies That Are Holding You Back”.
Chandler writes about the idea that whether you see a stick that looks like a snake or you see an actual snake, it actually makes no difference. In both cases your mind does the same. It is a flight response and your body will jump. Even if you really are only looking at a stick, your mind-body-reaction will be the same. He rightly says “perception is reality”.
The reason for this is that our mind is constantly active in interpreting the sounds, smells and sights around us. We are a meaning making machine.
While I was listening to this audiobook and Chandler’s voice I thought, these same principles can be applied to our relationships.
When your spouse says something to you, you are left trying to make meaning out of their words.
Now listen to this: If you only think their words are a criticism or if they are actually trying to criticise you – you will react the same. It makes no difference to your reaction.
If you just think your spouse is scolding you, or whether their intent is to scold you, you will react in the same way. It is like your body jumps, the same reaction as the sight of a stick or snake.
Your perception becomes your reality and that in turn, forms your reaction.
And herein lies a big danger in every relationship. A harmless comment can escalate into a big argument, just because you thought your spouse was mean to you.
A classic example
He comes home from work and looks into the pot simmering on the stove. He asks “what are the green bits in there?”
And her reaction, because she thinks he wants to criticise her and she is already stressed about something else, is: “If you don’t like what I am cooking, why don’t you go home to your mum!”
You can imagine how the rest of the evening could hypothetically turn out.
What you could do
The challenge is that you can’t stop your brain from reacting with fight or flight. It is in our genetics. You may think some comments are an attack and you react accordingly either running away (slamming doors in your wake) or hold against it and a nasty argument ensues.
How about you stop right there and take a deep breath and run the comment you just heard through a filter of Love and Understanding?
Try to understand where your partner is coming from. Are they stressed from their job, children or financial issues? Has anything happened during the day that might have upset them?
And first and foremost, assume that their comment is based on love.
If he wants to know what the greens in the simmering pan are – just tell him: beans or broccoli. He does not want to criticise your cooking, he just wants to know.
And if she wants to know why you haven’t booked the holiday destination yet – just tell her: you haven’t had the time to do so. You could even try thanking her for the reminder. This approach could change the trajectory of the conversation, perhaps even leading to whether it would be better that she offers her input – no harm done.
If you filter these comments through Love and Understanding and give your brain a moment longer than you usually would to process the meaning behind what was said, you will be able to respond better than just with the fight or flight mode.
I am more than happy to support you in quietening down your meaning making machine.
Just organise a free call so that we can have a chat.
And if you want to know more about the 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back, check out Steve Chandler – it’s a great read or audiobook.
A successful, happy and lasting relationship consists of two individuals who are themselves successful, happy and contented. Of course everyone has their own definition of success and there is no point in comparing your life with anybody else. It is important though that you are content with yourself and with your own definition of success. This gives you the perfect starting point for a great relationship.
Working on yourself is the best way to work on your marriage. Whenever I speak to partners in a long-time relationship, I see two people who respect each other, who listen to each other and who stand up for each other.
You can only respect someone else when you respect yourself. You can only listen effectively to someone when you are in control of your own thoughts. You can only stand up for the other person, when you are standing solidly on your own two feet. You need to help yourself before you help others.
You need to put on your Oxygen-mask on first.
Many women come to realising that their relationship has taken a downward turn over the last few years. Sometimes it has taken them over five years to finally admit that their relationship is in trouble.
It is hard to imagine what must go on in the minds of these women (and men) each and every day.
You feel trapped in a situation and you can’t see the way out.
What you can do…?
There are always three doors you can choose from. And the choice is more difficult for each different door.
The first door is to do nothing and stay in your unhealthy or even toxic relationship. This is the easiest door, but at the same time, it is the one that leaves you feeling unhappy, sick and eventually unhealthy.
You are in a difficult relationship. You can see it. Still, you stay put and keep up with it each and every day. And you hope against all odds that it will be better one day in the future.
The second door is to walk away. Separation – Divorce – Split up.
What a crazy idea? You lose half of your assets, you lose half of your friends, you may lose the worry-free connection with your kids. And the memories you have of the last few years become tainted with the feeling of “not good enough”.
This step is a very hard step and many, many people stay in unhealthy relationships because they fear the unknown.
Where am I going to live?
Will I ever fall in love again?
Will anyone fall in love with me?
Because we don’t know the answer to these questions we stay put and chose the first door.
The third door is even more difficult to grasp.
This door is all about change. And you’ve heard me saying it before, “you can’t make your partner change, you can only change yourself”. In other words, the third door is about yourself.
You need to realise that you need to change to eventually change your relationship for the better. You need to own it. You need to be empowered. You need to change!
Believe me, the first two doors are undoubtedly much easier to walk through.
When you have decided that the third door is the right path for you, contact me because that is where I can help you.
You deserve to live in a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.
Let me help you to achieve that.
Simply send me an email to welcome@Inspiring-Relationships.com.au and we take it from there.
“Why Money is more important than Sex”
How to create and maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship
This book is for every person who wants to work on their relationship and learn more about how to maintain a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.
This book is also for people experiencing a rough patch and want to see a way out and get back on track, without needing to ‘air dirty laundry’.
And finally, this book is for single people who would like to know what caused their last relationship to fail. Or for singles who want to equip themselves with the tips and tricks that keep a relationship going.
We want relationships. We want closeness, trust, security and the certainty not to grow old alone.
We want to wake up loving our best-friend, partner and confidant more than we did the day before.
But in reality, more relationships than ever before are now ending prematurely because many have forgotten the fine art of making the other person feel special every single day.
This book gives you the insights into why people are separating and the huge influence that money has on your relationship.
You will find tips, techniques and tools that are needed for creating and maintaining lasting love.
Not sure whether this is the right gift for Valentine’s for your life partner and
yourself. You could try… 🙂
Please have a look at the table of contents here:
If you do not consciously take care of the things you cherish they decline in value.
You maintain your house, your car, your computer, your health, and your teeth because if you don’t, they lose their value.
If you do not look after your relationship it declines in value.
As you read this book, make some notes about the relationship you want. Then pass it on to your partner to read, ask him or her to make notes and, if you are able, make time to discuss your notes.
I know this tip might be challenging for you in case you find yourself in an unhealthy or toxic relationship. Still it could be a conversation started if this is the case. At some stage you would need to confront your partner anyway. Obviously, it is easier when you are in a good relationship where you can openly share ideas and goals.
You can order a signed copy from me now for only $34.99 (including shipping). https://www.inspiring-relationships.com.au/thebook/