When the motivation is gone, is your relationship really doomed? Dr. Lynn Wicker offers four tips to jump start your love.
There are so many relationships and marriages that are on life support and both people are just waiting around to see who will pull the plug. It seems like everyone is in search of how to find the energy, attitude and mindset to wake up every morning with the same intensity you had on day one of your commitment to your relationship. Whether that commitment is one month old or 20 years old, it doesn’t really seem to matter; motivation to be consistent in all the things that make a relationship work can seem elusive. And when the motivation is gone, the relationship is doomed.
In the beginning.
In the beginning stage of a relationship, or what I like to call the “Zingy” stage, everything is new, exciting and super charged. Our emotions, our enthusiasm and motivation to be the best partner on the planet are at their peak, so our initial relationship success seems almost effortless.
But what is it that happens to us over time when we lose interest in trying hard, and we’re unable to find the motivation to keep our relationship commitments and stay the course? What happens when we wake up one morning and can’t remember that feeling of excitement and anticipation about being with our partner?
Could we be our own worst enemy and never know it?
The answer may be that there are some things that we were completely unaware we were doing in the beginning stage of the relationship that we now no longer do. There are some critical elements that are playing a starring role in the initial enthusiasm and excitement in a new relationship. They were there in the beginning of the relationship and it’s important to uncover them and realize how they are key to creating and sustaining our own motivation to keep the relationship strong.
The good news is you are in control.
We now know from psychologists that there are three critical elements that support motivation, and the good news is that you are in control of all of them.
Here are three ways you can be your own motivation in your relationship.
- Believe In Your Own Autonomy. Some things we do in life are because of external reasons and some are because we decided to do them for ourselves. In a personal relationship or marriage, hopefully, it’s something we chose to do!But either way, it really doesn’t matter. The research on autonomy and motivation has shown that when we engage in an activity, our level of motivation isn’t dependent on whether the activity was required of us or because we opted in.What does matter is our belief that we are in charge and have some level of autonomy in the relationship.So, the more in charge you feel and believe that you are, the more motivated you are in pursuing the goal. The moment you begin to feel and believe that you are trapped, have no options and no control, you can expect your lack of motivation to contribute to a relationship nose dive.I’ve talked to many people who tell me they feel they have few or no options in their marriage and they begin to see it as more of an obligation than a deliberate choice.Deciding to change the way you view the relationship from obligation to an autonomous choice allows you to become more motivated to work through the challenges.
- Stay True to Your Values. Higher levels of motivation in the pursuit or maintenance of a relationship are more easily maintained if we make sure that we honor our personal beliefs and values in the pursuit. Any part of our relationship that is in conflict with our own values will not likely survive for very long.So how do you know when your values are clashing? Think about the root causes of what you seem to argue about all the time. It’s so important to have meaningful conversations with your partner about what you value and what they value and to make sure that you have some common ground.You probably won’t agree on everything, and that’s okay, but discovering that you don’t share the same values on the important things in life will most certainly cause you to lose motivation to invest emotionally in the relationship.It’s pretty simple, really.We tend to be more motivated by what we value; and when we value something, we tend to remain much more committed. So if you discover that you and your partner have some value clashes, talk about them together and try to come to some agreement, or at least agree to disagree.You will find that the ability to create a sense of being true to your own values will immediately allow you to increase your motivation in the relationship.
- Develop Competence. When we remain committed over time, our skills and overall competence in our relationship skills tends to improve. There is a strong link between our perception of our own competence to have and maintain a quality relationship and our continued desire and motivation in that relationship.The competence phenomenon becomes a bit cyclic.When we do something more than once, we tend to become more competent; and when we feel more competent, we tend to continue longer in the activity or behavior.People who think they are just naturally good at relationships tend to give up more easily and lose their motivation to stay committed. On the other hand, those who feel less competent but know they must engage in the hard work involved in high quality relationships tend to be more successful and stay more motivated.The reason for this is that experiencing the success hard work brings actually inspires a person to keep learning about their partner, to continue to grow through their failures and it causes them to believe they are ready to take on even more relationship challenges in the future.
Stop waiting on someone else.
So instead of waiting for someone else to motivate you every day to be the best relationship partner on the planet, tap into these three powerful ways that you can motivate yourself.
- Believe in your own autonomy
- Stay true to your values
- Believe you are competent
Autonomy, values and competence…what a winning combination!
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Photo credit: Flickr/Betssssy