08 Feb Breaking Out of a Relationship in a Rut
When a relationship is in the budding stages of love and romance, it is tons of fun, exciting, and passionate. The longer the relationship goes on things seem more routine and less thrilling. It is as if the spark is gone. This feeling of being stuck or loss of passion is a relationship in a rut.
Having a relationship in a rut is a normal part of a long-term relationship. A relationship in a rut does not mean there is something wrong with your everyday life or the relationship. Instead, the relationship ruts signals attunement into the relationship dynamics, individual needs lacking in the relationship, and it is time to turn things up a notch.
Renowned couple researcher and author Dr. John Gottman has done extensive work to find the secrets to making love last. A part of making love last and getting out of the relationship rut is knowing the secrets of happy couples. These secrets can be applied to enhance any couple’s relationship. With taking a compilation of all of his work, there are five secrets of happy couples which can apply to getting out of the relationship rut.
Recognize and respond to each other’s bids for attention
Dr. Gottman’s work refers to these as “bids for connection.” A bid for attention can be simple like a smile or sigh or they can be more complex like needing advice or waiting your partner’s option on something. During bids it is important for partners to turn toward one another and not away from one another. Turning towards means you are paying attention to these bids and are responding to them. Take an inventory of the bids and turn into your relationship and share time with one another.
Prioritize intimacy and sex
Humans desire connection with other humans. The connection builds through “bids of connection which helps us want to be intimate and feel emotionally connected to our partner even in times of disagreement. Yet, with our busy lives we need separate sexual intimacy from our routine of daily or relational problems and make it a priority. We need to find things in the relationship which ignite sexual desire. This could be as simple as holding hands or affection touch (e.g. shoulder rub or back rub) or become more intricate with adding more foreplay (allow tension to build), varying the kind of sex you have, or being more vulnerable and open about sexual fantasies or different places to have sex.
Show interest in each other’s worlds by asking questions
Never lose curiosity and understanding in your relationship. When we get too trapped in our routines and daily stress, we can lose sight of what made dating and getting to know one another so exciting in the beginning of the relationship. An individual grows and changes with time, and so do relationships. The best way to remain curious is by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions allow richer response than asking a question where the answer is yes or no. By asking open-ended questions, it enriches conversation and deepens connection through conversation.
Support each other’s growth and learning of new things
Coming together as a couple can be exhilarating on its own. These new things can be as simple as new date ideas, going on trips, or taking a class together. As time goes by, it can lose that magic and it’s important to bring it back through days, months, years, and decades of being together. The best way to do that is through self-discovery and personal growth as an individual growing and changing in relation to your partner and encouraging and supporting your partner in a similar journey. This journey can be done together through couple therapy. Couple therapy can be a simple tune-up and check-in for the relationship to better help weather everything going on in life and your relationship. Also, it can be done individual then coming together to share what has been discovered about yourself. Nothing can be more rewarding in a relationship than understanding yourself at your best and worse times then share that with your partner.
See problems as joint problems to be solved
Dr. Gottman’s research has pointed out about 66% of relationship problems are unsolvable. This is a statistic can make any couple discouraged which is understandable. A lot of times, couples fight about nothing. It usually comes down to a difference in perspective. Even as a couple, both partners are individuals with individual perspectives. When those perspectives clash there can be a lot of arguments. As a couple, if you can work together in accepting problems are never just going to go way and instead focus on what you can do about these issues as they come up will help then together build a dialogue around each perspective and empathy to come to a mutual understanding.
Remembers relationships are hard work. Relationship ruts are par for the course. It’s important always be working on communication and understanding. Deep understanding come from accepting each other as individuals in the context of the relationship. This can help aid in getting out of any rut.
Allison received her Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at The Family Institute at Northwestern University and earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree from Ball State University. Allison enjoys the challenges and variety of offering individual, couple, and family therapy to children, teens, and adults. She has been working in the mental and behavioral health field since 2009 in various outpatient and inpatient settings and has extensive experience working with children and their families through AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteer work prior to receiving her master’s degree.
With children and teens, Allison empowers her clients to learn tools to overcome struggles with depression, anxiety, emotional regulation, attention/behavioral issues, trauma, self-esteem, and gender or identity. Allison also believes that family work can often strengthen one member’s success with these struggles. Allison tailors her work to her clients’ needs and utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution-Focused Therapy, and play therapy to help her clients achieve their goals.
With adults and couples, Allison has experience enriching and empowering dating, premarital, and married couples. She helps couples with relationship enrichment, intimacy issues, conflict resolution, family of origin conflict, parenting issues, and infidelity. She can assist in giving tools to enhance intimacy, foster healthy communication and conflict, as well as work on identifying and changing the patterns that get couples stuck in a negative cycle. Allison has training in integrating Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), Gottman Method Couples Therapy, and Psychodynamic theories while working with couples.