Being the best partner — 05 June 2006
How to recharge your energy in your relationship

Relationships can be likened to an electronic gadget in being thrilling, fun and enjoyable when new, functional and serviceable with time and uninspiring and predictable when familiar. The difference is that keeping long-term enthusiasm for a gadget is not imperative for its efficacy, while it is necessary for a healthy relationship.

Most pairs find keeping the super-spark for each other alive quite difficult for a variety of reasons. First, both the body and the mind find maintaining a long term high level of excitation unsustainable. This is a health and survival protective mechanism that best maintains functioning at the middle range of energy and emotionality with some intermittent peaks. Thus, familiarity reduces the initial intensity in the relationship and lowers it to a manageable level. Most couples are disappointed about that change and some even see it as a foreboding sign to their union. The truth is that moving from infatuation to loving is a healthy transition.

Most couples find themselves redirecting their enthusiasm to their children, jobs, social and recreational endeavors and home projects. The newness of these and other interests keeps their energy well directed. It is not necessarily a loss to the relationship; it could be the normal transition to sharing and caring together as they build their nest.

Of course, the attention to the mate must be kept at a level that is satisfying to both partners. Some people are so disenchanted with losing the partner’s total attention that they resign themselves to feeling unhappy, hurt, disappointed and even unloved. Dealing with a disenchanted, hurt and angry mate only reduces the motivation for exchanges and blocks the way to restoring happiness.

Some individuals find that the effort necessary to keep the thrill and passion alive requires self-attention and energy that they lack. They see it as an end of day extra demand on their already depleted self. Many nurture, care for others, work hard managing their days and feel exhausted. To add the couple’s needs feels overwhelming and too taxing. They fail to realize that though connecting with each other daily does require energy, it is an invigorating rather than depleting one.

There are others who do not know if reigniting the flame is even possible, and if so, how to achieve it.

The process of recapturing the enthusiastic, attentive connection between partners is not difficult. It does require, however, some mental and physical energy well worth investing.

• Bring the past to the present: Recapture in your mind the appreciated view you had of your partner early in your courtship. Recall the essence of what attracted you to your lover then – it is still there today!
• Think of the quality of character and essential traits that were on your original dating “must have list” and all others your partner possesses that came along as extra benefits.
• Remind yourself of all the ways in which your partner enriches you daily. Write down a list of all your mate’s small and large contributions that enhance and facilitate your life.
• Use the smile of recognition, warmth and appreciation to tell your partner how much he/she matters to you and that you will pick him or her again today.
• Invite your partner to do things with you, share time and activities and remember to comment how much fun you had with him/her at the end of the outing.
• Let your mate know how much he or she is still physically appealing to you. Touch often with gentleness and warmth. Exchanged affection in words and touch often makes people feel closer and more interested in further physical intimacy.
• Create levity and humor, laughter and singing even during hard times. It is a bonding and intimate sharing that helps reduce stress.
• Think of your life as a pie chart. Divide it in a way that allocates a segment to couple time, romance, and sex. Allowing all else to take priority is a sad excuse for losing the main bond that holds all the rest of your life together.
• Find an enjoyable mutual activity you can both share such as a new hobby, athletic activities, lessons or even volunteer work. Whatever pleasures you both enlivens your connection.
• Be romantic – it is flattering, seductive, and partner empowering, which often leads to reciprocity as the flame gets rekindled.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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