We fell off.
You know those quizzes where you answer a series of questions to find out which Harry Potter character you’d be? I found myself scrolling through a relationship quiz to see if I was “checking out” of my relationship.
What prompted me to do so? I felt “blah” as of late about our relationship, and I couldn’t pinpoint where these feelings were coming from.
A little backstory: my boyfriend and I have been together for almost 4 years now.
We were the cheesiest of couples.
The hop into each other’s arms in the rain like Ally in the Notebook type of cheesy.
This type of cheesiness started on our first date back in 2016, and lasted up until a few weeks ago, when I was suddenly draped in a feeling of discontent.
But where was this coming from? Should I bring it up to him? Keep it to myself and pray that the feeling would pass?
I decided to be respectful and just keep it 100 with him, because personally- I’ve been on the other side (where my partner checked out without telling me), and that led to the demise of the relationship(s), and even worse, infidelity.
In this blog post, I’ve listed the things we changed that got us over this bump in the road (as you’ve seen on my insta, we’re still rockin!).
I’ve also included my methods for communicating this concern- ways that were proven effective throughout the course of our 4 year journey.
Side note- even if you don’t have this specific concern, these tools can be applicable to essentially any problem you and your partner run into.
I (Strategically) Used “I statements” in Our Talk
Just a disclaimer- my man is a Scorpio (Lord help me).
So if you’re into astrology, you know that Scorpio’s tend to take things very personally, and at times can play the victim (somehow turn your concerns around and make it about how THEY feel).
If your partner is the same way (regardless of their sign, lol!) “I” statements are crucial for communicating without offending.
Keep in mind you can mix the order of this, just make sure you hit every point^
A common/accusatory response:
“I hate it when you do not listen to me.”
(Important not: This example is using “i”- as in: it’s in the sentence- but it is not an “i statement”- because the focus isn’t on the person talking, it shifts the focus to the person they’re talking to (aka accusatory))
“When you do not listen to what I am saying, I feel ignored and unloved.”
Here’s another example:
Scenario: A woman becomes angry when her sister borrows her favorite coat and returns it with stains and a tear.
“You ruined my jacket! Are you ever going to grow up?!”
“I” statement response:
“I am upset that my coat was damaged because I can’t afford to replace it. I really appreciate it when the things I loan out are taken care of.”
“Avoid ‘you’ statements whenever possible. People tend to complain using phrases like, ‘You always…’ or ‘You never…’ which can feel like an accusation,” board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Susan Edelman tells Bustle.
“It’s more effective to say ‘I feel hurt when you…’ instead.” That way, the conversation is about how you’re feeling, instead of what your partner may or may not be doing wrong.”
My specific example (what I said during our talk):
“I feel a disconnect between us, but I don’t know where it’s coming from. I’d like for us to come together to figure out what’s going on, because I’m having trouble pinpointing where it’s coming from myself.”
(Referring back to the photo, “I’d like for us to come together” was my form of saying “what I need is”)
Brainstorm the Different Things That Can Be Contributing to the Feelings You’re Having
Keep in mind, I did the first and second step backwards. Looking back on it now, I wish I would’ve taken more time to myself to figure out where these feelings were coming from (before talking to him).
But with my personality, I can’t keep things bottled up for so long, so this was a way that worked for me.
We literally sat there and asked each other questions:
- Did a traumatic or stressful event happen during this time of feeling distant?
- Are both of us feeling distant? Or just one of us?
- Has there been an interruption in the way things usually are between us?
- Has there been an interruption in someone’s normal routine (as individuals)?
- Is the effort not being reciprocated on one end? Both ends? If so, in what ways?
Be honest with each other- this is the time to not hold anything back.
(again, refer to the “i” statements”- you can even screenshot that visual and have it in your hand during your talk! That helps me a lot)
I mentioned that I haven’t been getting enough sleep (due to working so much), I’ve been slacking on keeping up with my self-care routines aka taking a break, and I’ve also been feeling overwhelmed for weeks now– ding ding ding!
He mentioned that I’ve gotten crazy busy, and that he feels like he barely sees me (even when I’m physically in the same room as him) and that I haven’t been present– ding ding ding!
Ouch. So you mean… the culprit was me this whole time??
I got so consumed in my blog, speaking events, influencer stuff, and even a new business venture (on top of my 9-5 & volunteer work), that I unintentionally put my relationship on the back-burner.
You guys.. I was literally working AT the dinner table with my boyfriend- laptop out and all with my dinner right beside it.
Every time he said something, I’d respond a few seconds later saying, “Huh what? Sorry can you repeat that.”
After this deep digging with my boyfriend, I also came to realize:
When you are not self aware, it’s easy to point outward and assume outside sources are the cause for the decline in your relationship.
The grass is greener where you water it, ladies.
I was so preoccupied with the different hats I was wearing, that I forgot to water my lawn.
I seemed to forget that relationships are not just committing to faithfulness- but committing to effort- every single day, 24/7.
I had to remind myself that a relationship is like a plant. You have to tend to it everyday, giving it ALL the supplements it needs to survive.
And because of this, I firmly believe that you fall in love, but staying in love? It’s a choice.
The current status of our relationship is merely the product of all the choices we make, everyday.
With that being said, these are the last 2 tips I have for ya:
the Planning & the Execution.
Planning: These Were the 5 Adjustments That Made the Biggest Impact
1- Have dinner together every night.
- No matter how busy we are, we have a sit down dinner every single night
- No phones allowed at the table/no tv on in the background/ face-to-face interaction
I’m aware that some couples don’t have the luxury of having dinner every night together, but the 2nd guideline can be applied to whenever you guys spend time period- block out a certain amount of time where phones are away and you both are fully present.
2- Have one date night (or date day) per week
Physically set it in your calendar so that it solidifies your commitment to this date- ours is every Friday night.
- The date has to be out of the house
- Phones away
3- Try something “new” once a month
Again, set this in your calendar. You can even book the activity in advance as a way of holding each other accountable!
Examples of trying something new:
- Go on a hike to a new spot
- Try a new restaurant/new type of food
- Try an activity one or both of you have never done before (our example: he’s never been to a wine and Paint Nite and I’ve never been fishing)
4- Make a pact to communicate how much you love each other *Daily* and *Differently*
Important note: This should be saying things *other than* “I love you”
Examples of other ways to say I love you:
- “I’m proud of you!”
- “I love the way you ___”
- “I don’t know what I’d do without you”
- “That shirt looks great on you!”
- “Remember the time (insert great memory)”
- “I’m feeling so blessed to have this relationship”
- “Your heart is safe with me, always”
- “I appreciate you”
5- Give Yourselves a Chance to Miss Each Other
In my opinion, this is the most important tip (especially for those who live together)
[5a] We stopped texting each other all day.
We discuss our days over dinner instead.
This tip has also helped me complain less to my partner as well, because in the past- I automatically texted him to vent.
But after we implemented this rule, 99.99% of the time, I got over what I was going to complain about by the time dinner rolled around.
[5b] Encourage each other to go on girls/boys trips or to spend a day with friends
I am a stage 5 clinger- I have no shame. I love love love spending time with my man, and honestly don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it.
Over the years, this tip has worked wonders for our relationship- we truly miss each other even if we’re gone for only a few hours!
These feelings took place just recently, about a month and a half ago. And even after a short few weeks, we started to see a difference immediately.
We feel closer than ever and found a deeper appreciation for not just one another, but for our partnership– we are back in action yall!
Like all my other posts, I chose to write this because I ran into a problem, and then found solutions that actually worked for me.
I hope that by sharing my story, you’re able to reconnect with your partner and communicate your feelings more openly.
I even made a “Spark it Up” 4-Week challenge for those of you who wanna try to apply all these tips to your own relationship- whether it be to bring the spark back, or (if the spark was never lost), to bring you and your partner closer together.
Tip: If you’re hesitant about bringing it up, just say:
“Hey! I saw this 4-week challenge for couples on this relationship blog, can we do it?”– I know a few women personally who need a graphic like this to actually bring it up!
If you end up doing this challenge, please write to me afterwards! I would love to hear about your journey and if these tips worked for you.
Let’s get that spark back honey!
If you loved this post, you’d probably love my [Keep the Peace: The Best Advice I Have for Couples Living Together] post.