Re-Romancing Relationships

By Barbara Radin Fox

Romance sounds like the most wonderful state of bliss to be in.  And it is. The problem is much of the time, after two people court each other, live with each other, and often marry, the feeling of being on cloud nine wears off.

Living day to day with someone's idiosyncrasies, different interests, values and beliefs is difficult.  So many people feel that if their significant other has a different view to a situation than theirs, there must be something wrong with him/her.  Some argue about the least little thing and the same thing all the time. Concern for the feelings of the other falls by the wayside. Compromise doesn’t exist anymore.  They can't seem to agree on much of anything.

All the wonderful feelings they had for each other turns into numbness, hurt or anger.

Lots of other things can destroy relationships.  Inflexible expectations about money, career demands, children and step-children, ex-spouses,  in-laws, deciding who cooks and who takes out the garbage, sex, family size, religious practices— all can cause huge rifts between spouses. Dysfunctional beliefs about any relationship as well as the many aspects of love and marriage can lead to dysfunctional marriages.

I have had my share of clients who think that a spouse’s duty is to be parent to the other spouse and those who think that they have the right, as well as duty, to make sure that their spouse is behaving exactly the way they want them to, sort of like how dad or mom treated them.

Another factor that can destroy relationships is the use of alcohol or other drugs, which can cause one or both people in a relationship to become violent, argumentative, angry, withdrawn. Good relationships cannot flourish where there is anger, disrespect, violence or abuse.

And there are times in couples' lives that put great stress on even a good relationship:

  • The birth of children
  • Illness
  • Moving
  • Changes or problems in extended families
  • Promotions and demotions
  • Parenting
  • Changes in financial status
  • The empty nest syndrome

The process of helping individuals and couples with the little and sometimes huge problems of relating  to each other in a healthy, rational and pleasant way is what I call "Re-Romancing." This process isn't just teaching people to communicate better, although that is part of it. This process isn't just having one spouse send flowers, candy or cards to the other spouse, although that certainly can be part of it.

For couples with major problems, Re-Romancing means identifying what the major obstacles are to a healthy, loving relationship and removing them. The couple then can start the healing process by dealing with the pain of the past and then work effectively together at recapturing the feelings of love, trust, caring, acceptance, respect and nurturing that will bring them back to the romance they once had for each other.

Couples are then able to learn how they can show each other their feelings of caring, respect, consideration and thoughtfulness. This is when a rose, a beautiful book, a surprise dinner out or a romantic weekend getaway  can go a long way to show one's loving feelings.

The time it takes to go through the Re-Romancing process depends on what the obstacles are. Some couples need just one workshop while other couples need more individual and/or couple's sessions to revive their relationship. The swiftest way to improve the relationship  is to have the commitment from both partners that they both want to improve their relationship, but it is possible to make many changes even if only one member of the relationship is willing to work individually.

Sometimes a couple finds out, though, that they really don’t belong together.  Just because two people cannot find happiness together doesn’t mean that they can’t be happy apart.

And happiness is what it’s all about.

Barbara Radin Fox is the founder of Body and Soul Therapy® and The Fox Performance Coaching Institute. Barbara is a Licensed Independent Social Worker and has a Masters in Education. She sees clients at Body & Soul, 2045 Maybank Hwy, James Island, SC, as well as in offices in Seabrook Island, Mt Pleasant and Goose Creek. For more information call 843-795-1100.