Growing Apart: Is It “Normal” In Relationships and Marriages?

Here’s a common issue for many people that we wanted to address in this week’s issue of our newsletter…

It’s about the question of “do we have to grow apart over the years with people we are in relationships with?” and how do you restore closeness if you do grow apart?

We get lots of questions around this topic. These kinds of questions are certainly ones that we hear frequently from couples in relationships that have lasted many years.

To the person who is wondering whether it’s “normal” for the closeness to fade over time in a relationship– we say that while it may seem this way to many people, we believe that it doesn’t have to be this way. We believe that if you have the intention and desire to do it, you can keep the closeness going in a relationship for as long as you want.

In order to do this, you have to have the desire to keep your relationship or marriage a top priority and do the kinds of things that create great relationships (even when it seems difficult.)

Because this is such an important topic to many people, here’s what another person asked that seemed to be on lots of people’s minds in a recent survey we conducted about this topic and relationships.

The question is… “What do you do once you have already started to ‘grow apart’ after many years together and several kids? Can the closeness be restored and if so how?”

What a great question and first of all, it’s important to note that most of us haven’t been taught how to keep a great relationship close, growing and alive over a number of years.

This means we’re trying to figure it out as we go along and sometimes we do some things that take us away from what we want–very often without even knowing it.

We have usually seen examples of two people living together for many years, possibly as friends (or not even as friends), but the passion and closeness has gone out of their relationship. They may live very easily together-or they may not-but they don’t seem to have anything in common any more.

The romance and passion that was once there seems to have evaporated over the years. Yes, this is something that many people experience and yes, closeness can be restored.

We’re often asked, “Okay, if closeness can be restored, where do we start?”

You start by not “dancing around” or ignoring the issue any longer. You start by approaching the subject with a strong desire and with the intention to begin learning how to connect again and not from a place of blame, lack or being a victim.

You start from a place of wonder and begin asking yourself questions like “What do I want my relationship to look like?” and “Is my partner happy with the way it is or does my partner want some changes?”

These are excellent questions and here’s the trick… When you have this conversation, you need to not only be brave enough to say what you’d like your relationship to look and feel like but even more importantly, you have to be able to listen and not get defensive about what your partner has to say. Several years ago, we had a talk about what would bring us even closer.

Along with our commitment to each other to spend the first hour after we wake up each day, connecting with each other, making love, and appreciating one another, Otto was willing to say what he wanted. He told Susie that he would like her to wear something more feminine than sweat pants to work in the home office that we share.

After dressing up every day for 30 years before retiring from her university job, Susie enjoyed being comfortable and wearing sweat pants to her “new” job but she was willing to listen. When Otto mentioned his request, she didn’t get defensive but searched within herself whether this was a request that she was willing and wanted to do. She actually discovered that flowing skirts were comfortable, inexpensive and she liked wearing them. She felt more feminine in them and the “spark” between us kept going even when we were at work.

We tell you this story to illustrate how in simple ways you can begin to become closer and even more passionate if you are willing to talk and listen to each other–and be open to making some changes in your life.

You may need to schedule some time together every day and begin to look at your life and your priorities so that you have time to spend together.

We urge you to start now to discover new ways to be together and recapture what once may have been between you. In many cases, it’s not too late but you never know until you explore the possibilities together.

Whether you’re in a new relationship that you want to last or you are with someone that you’ve been with for a long time, what we have discovered is that very often it’s not the big things that come between us that makes the closeness dissipate.

Sometimes It’s the little things that we allow to build and get bigger. One of our commitments we made to each other very early in our relationship has served us well and that is the commitment to NOT run away physically, energetically or emotionally when things were tough.

Our agreement is to work through whatever comes up between us as quickly as possible after we realize there is any kind of distance between us at all. This isn’t always easy (or convenient) but it is an excellent agreement that has been incredibly useful to us in keeping our relationship close, alive, vital and passionate. We think this agreement will serve you and your relationship as well…



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