How you handle a rough patch is KEY to saving your marriage.
“To get divorced because love has died, is like selling your car because it’s run out of gas.” — D. Sollee
Charlotte and Finn thought they were on the verge of a painful and expensive divorce. They came for couples counseling because they had fallen out of love, or so they thought.
There were frequent arguments and complete emotional shut-downs. To make matters worse, there had been no physical intimacy for several weeks. Charlotte broke down into tears describing the disconnection. Finn quickly shut down not knowing what to do or say, with a look of real fear on his face.
This kind of ‘we think we’ve “fallen out of love” couple’ is actually my favorite to work with. Why? Because all that hurt, anger, frustration and tears, clearly indicates that underneath it all, a couple is actually still very deeply in love.
What I’ve discovered is that with a little help, these couples can quickly harness their frustrated, emotional needs to motivate quickly reconnecting with each other. All they have to do is plug those frustrated needs directly into re-building profound emotional and physical intimacy together.
Here are three signs you’re still actually deeply in love and what you need to do to prove it to each other:
1. Your partner is more like your best friend than your lover.
This is the most important sign that you are actually still very deeply in love with each other. Why? Just ask any happy couple who’s been together for decades what the secret to a lasting relationship is. They’ll both tell you that it’s all about seeing each other and treating each other as best friends.
One of the biggest, but easiest to fix relationship-harming assumptions most couples have is that being in love needs to be passionate and intoxicating, like when they first started their relationship. But that’s just the “romantic” or “honeymoon phase” in your lifelong healthy couplehood journey.
After the first few months to a year, it’s totally normal for your honeymoon phase to fizzles out and for the “my best friend” phase to kick in.
So yes, your partner is your best friend. There’s no need for a break up. This means you actually still love each other and just need to makes some changes in your relationship. With work, there will be romance more profound than you’ve ever experienced.
2. You’re having little to no sex.
If you want to get the sex back in your marriage, you need to get the love back into your sex! That’s what best friends in a healthy marriage do. Recent research is clear that emotional intimacy is the key to a couple enjoying lifelong sexual intimacy. This is especially true for woman.
What’s the bottom line? The secret to lifelong physical intimacy for both men and woman is that sex is more enjoyable for women in love. The majority of woman in a major, recent survey stated that love is very important to be able to sustain that intimacy and have a successful lasting marriage. They also said that love made them let go of their sexual inhibitions. Because of that, sex became more satisfying for them.
What’s perhaps most telling about the nature of physical intimacy in long term relationships is that the majority of women in the older age group being studied (up to 68 years old) also said that love and sex continued to be strongly connected in their marriages. What’s the message for the vast majority of couples having relationship problems? Fix your emotional connection and you’ll fix your sexual connection.
3. There’s no communication because you “argue too much.”
Of course you argue. Arguing is just the opposite of effective communication. Why is that? Because your underling need for connection through properly expressed best-friendship is deeply frustrated right now. If you didn’t love each other so much, none of this would affect you.
The more frustrated and angry you feel, the more you actually love your partner inside. Learn to properly express and accept each other’s emotional intimacy needs. The arguing and other negative relationship behaviors will fizzle out.
So how do you get rid of those negative surface feelings and relationship behaviors that keep getting in the way of growing your best-friendship as a couple? You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it’s time to take real action.
Where do you start? Start by making a solid mutual pact to save your relationship. Healthy couplehood is like a two person dance pattern, with lifts and dips. One person can’t save a relationship alone. You have to do this as team.
Next, it’s absolutely critical that you turn your relationship into a “hurt-free-zone.” This is one of the most powerful strategies for preventing break up and divorce. How does this work? Simple. In your “hurt-free-zone,” the four kinds of toxic communication that predict relationship failure and divorce are simply not allowed to continue.
Once you’ve set up your “hurt-free-zone,” saving your marriage by making it a contest of generosity becomes faster, easier and will eventually kick into autopilot. Meeting your partner’s needs and wishes gets easier and easier as they meet yours and vise-versa. It becomes a contagious and virtuous cycle.
Once Charlotte and Finn turned their marriage into a “hurt-free-zone,” their relationship stabilized fast. They could not believe how much things started to turn around for them in just days. In a matter of weeks they both became great armchair relationship counselors. That really helped them save their marriage. This is an amazing way to really learn and apply a few simple but powerful couple-communication strategies developed by the world’s leading relationship experts. Charlotte and Finn have now been happily married and best-friends for years. They’ve built an amazing family together.
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______This article originally appeared on YourTango.For more like this from YourTango, try:Photo credit: Nathan Congleton/flickr