Mona Barbera
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Bring Back the Spark and Keep Your Relationship Alive By
Meeting the Challenges Your Partner Brings You

You may have a good relationship – but miss the spark that was once there. Maybe job, kids, or financial stress has come between you, or you’ve settled into a routine. You can do a lot to get the spark back.

First of all, resolve to look at your part of it. Try an experiment, and own 100% of the problem. 50-50 doesn’t work very well – someone has to take the lead.

Built-up resentment is the first main cause of distance in couple relationships.

Do you have old resentments piled up inside? Are you resentful of things that keep happening?

Do you think your mate is to blame for what happened? Do you hear yourself thinking critical thoughts about him or her? Are you convinced that your mate is at fault? Have you decided that you need to be distant to protect yourself?

If you answered yes to any of the above, respect your feelings. Don’t try to fight them. Just listen in, like you were listening to someone who needed a friend to understand.

See if you can understand how some of your criticism and blame could be related to your own past. Does your partner’s behavior remind you of how other people have failed you?

Now you can do something about this. Be honest with your partner about your resentments – with no blame or shame. Share your feelings without being convinced it’s his or her fault. Instead of being convinced, be curious about yourself and your partner.

You may have the best conversation you ever had.

Avoiding difficult conversations out of fear is the second main cause of distance in couple relationships.

Listen to your fears. If you brought up important issues, are you afraid your mate would get angry? Depressed? Leave you?

Listen to your fears with kindness and love. They are there for a reason. See if you start to make connections about how your fears have to do with your own life.

Once you can own your fears as your own, you won’t have to be afraid of what your partner does when you bring up difficult issues. You’ll feel free and honest, and you’ll be able to stay calm and connected even if he or she does get upset at first.

The third main cause of distant relationships is that the spark was never there to begin with.

But you may be able to find it for the first time.

Be honest with yourself – did you choose your mate because he or she was safe? Because you thought you’d get security? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is this really about me? Am I doing anything that is keeping us in safe, secure, rut?

2. What am I afraid would happen if I had more excitement in my relationship?

See if you can face your own fears. Maybe there is some experiment you can make to see if you can do something different. You may be surprised at how your mate responds. He or she may be more exciting than you thought!

Looking for more resources?

Boston area:

Michael Keane

Mona Barbara Photo Mona Barbera
Dr. Mona is a psychologist, couples therapist, couples workshop leader, speaker, and the author of Bring Yourself to Love: How Couples Can Turn Disconnection into Intimacy.
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