Great Relationships: How to Get the Spark Back

Losing the spark - simply, if you will, falling out of love - is a natural and widespread phenomenon in long-term relationships.

As a matter of fact, most of these relationships experience an ebb and flow that is quite normal and to be expected.

The problem, as I see it, is that most of us buy into the idea that we are supposed to fall in love and live ``happily ever after.''

In reality, there are times when you may not even like the person you are married to. I believe it was Billy Joel who said, ``You might love somebody but you won't want 'em everyday.'' It's no coincidence that the song is titled ``Ain't No Crime.''

The normal ebb and flow of relationships seems to involve at least three distinct stages: ``in love,'' ``out of love'' and ``wanting out.''

In Love

This is certainly the most fun and enjoyable of the three stages. It's when you just can't get enough of each other. This can be in the early part of a relationship, as well at in many different times throughout a relationship, when couples experience fun, passion and excitement.

Here some tips about the ``in-love'' stage:

Pay attention during these times to what you are doing that helps you to enjoy each other.

Relax and enjoy the ride.

Out of Love

This is the stage when you are just sort of going through the motions of day-to-day living. Nothing is really wrong, at least nothing you can put your finger on.

While you may still be having fun together, there just doesn't seem to be much excitement or passion in the relationship. Many couples have described this stage to me as ``it seems like we're just roommates or something.''

Some tips:

Don't panic, this can be very normal.

Enjoy being friends.

Remember and then do the things you did when you felt closest.

Wanting Out

This seems to be the most frightening stage of all. In this stage, we think such things as, ``I wonder what it would be like to be single again'' and ``Who is this person I married?''

We are usually not well prepared for these thoughts and feelings.

A couple once told me the story of when the husband came to the wife and said the sometimes ominous words, ``We need to talk.'' He went on to say, with much apprehension, ``I'm not sure I feel like being married anymore.'' Potentially frightening words.

The wife, in her wisdom, was able to say, ``Oh, is that all?''

What she was able to do with her response was to normalize the situation. This allowed the couple to handle the situation as a normal part of married life.

Tips:

Try not to make any major decisions during this stage.

Remember that this can be a normal phase, and only a phase, of marriage.

Remember that you don't have to act on every feeling that comes up.

It's OK, and can even be helpful, to talk about the feelings involved.

The ebb and flow of marriage is sometimes difficult to manage. It's important to remember that these stages are all normal and will pass, as is the nature of stages.

While it's certainly not always easy, hanging in there can often be very much worth it.

For even more tips and strategies for a great relationship visit relationship coach Jeff Herring's SecretsofGreatRelationships.com

In The News:

Relationships Where More Means Less  The Wall Street Journal

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