Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Finding yourself again when your relationship is stuck

While relationships can bring a lot of happiness and have many positive aspects, sometimes we become so consumed in love that we lose a part of ourselves. The moment we feel like our personality is being compromised, it can make us fear that we're losing our identity.

Often we devote so much of our time and energy into one person, we start to neglect things/people that have always been important to us – things that make us who we are. For example, have you stopped a hobby or sport that you loved, or do you spend less time with close friends?

It's natural for relationships to evolve and change over time, and sometimes the parts of the relationship that we enjoyed suddenly dissolve. You might find there are fewer date nights and more nights spent in front of the TV arguing over household chores. All of these factors can make us feel stressed, angry or resentful, which can put an enormous strain on our emotional wellbeing not to mention our relationship.

One of the main problems that occurs in longer-term relationships is that we stop talking and communicating positively. We find ourselves bottling up negative emotions and replaying made-up conversations in our head. Over long periods of time, internalising problems or worries can cause anxiety or even depression, which causes us to become self-critical. If we feel that we aren't being true to ourselves or don't like the person we've become, it could in the long run jeopardise our relationship.

How to find yourself and start enjoying your relationship again

You shouldn't have to neglect your own interests or what makes you happy to be in a relationship, and there are ways to fix things if you really want the relationship to work.

Communication is key!

We often avoid communication with our other half for fear of an argument but talking doesn't have to be confrontational. Perhaps suggest to your partner that you both make a list of what you feel is good and what you would like to improve about your relationship and how you feel you can fix it. This way you'll take the time to 'listen' to what the other is saying (you don’t have to do this when you’re together), digest it and come to an amicable solution.

Spend time apart

Make it a priority to spend some time each week doing something apart that you love or that is important to you. This might be a session at the gym, lunch with a friend, or an hour reading before bed. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy every moment of being you!

Make a rota

Many relationships end up in arguments over whose turn it is to cook dinner or clean the house, but this can be easily resolved as long as you both have respect for each other and agree that household chores shouldn’t just be the responsibility of one person. Drafting up a rota may seem petty but it’s a good way of sharing the responsibilities. It's important that you both agree and are willing to commit to the rota - don't just spring it on your partner! But it can help lift the burden of chores and hopefully you can have more time to yourself again. 

Spend quality time together

Believe it or not, spending quality time together can actually make you remember who you are. By arranging a time when you can solely focus on each other, you'll find that you begin to make more of an effort such as dressing nicely and making each other smile and laugh. Even just having a night in listening to your favourite music together can remind you of why you fell in love in the first place. Remember to focus on each other's positive qualities and you'll find the compliments will start to flow, making both of you feel good about yourselves. Director of Research for the Gottman Institute, Carrie Cole, says: "find ways to compliment your partner every day, whether it’s expressing your appreciation for something they've done or telling them, specifically, what you love about them".

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