It’s hard to put a finger on it, but our relationship started to feel less like a loving partnership and more of … something else. Maybe it was our adjustment to parenthood or the fact that we’re a mere months away from having been married for 10 years, but something needed to change for us to be happy together. I’m okay putting this out there because I know that we are not the only people who need relationship maintenance.
Counseling would have been the obvious first choice, but our schedules are inverse of each other. Also, not having family here in New York makes it challenging to find trustworthy childcare. We even looked into remote counseling, but once again, the times that we had available for sessions didn’t match the availability of the counselors. We definitely didn’t want to just throw in the towel but we didn’t know what else to do, so we got creative.
In my career, if something is not panning out the way it was envisioned to a reset is highly encouraged. Using what I know, I proposed to Jo that we engage in a relationship reset. We had no idea how to go about it, so we figured it out together. We took some time to really think about what aspects of our relationship wasn’t working. Through many challenging conversations we were able to arrive at the core of what caused our issues. Clearly knowing what needed to be worked on shifted the reset dynamic in an extremely positive way.
The biggest needle-mover in our relationship was honesty. We were honest about where we were in the relationship, we were honest about how we felt about each other in the moment, and we were honest about what we had not been honest about. Those conversations were tough but so necessary. As humans, we needed to space to process everything, and so we took time to do that in a way that made sense to us. We were crystal clear with each other though that this was not a break or a breakup, but processing space. The process has been a challenging one, but it has really changed our relationship for the better.
Is a Relationship Reset Right for You?
A relationship reset might make sense for you if you’re generally content with your relationship and you want to refresh areas that are somewhat stale, or maybe to increase sexual or non-sexual intimacy, or perhaps there is a glaring issue that needs addressing. While I’m no counselor, if you are experiencing something like what I’ve mentioned above, a reset might be in order. I want to say that by no means am I a relationship expert, but I’m sharing my experience and what worked for my marriage.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Rather it’s more of a “based on the relationship dynamics, what organically makes sense for you?” For example, during our reset Jo and I decided to put physical intimacy on hold while we sorted other things out. We unexpectedly found ourselves flirting with each other a lot more. This obviously wouldn’t work for everyone, but it had a good outcome for us. Regardless, of how you all choose to approach your relationship reset, what is important to keep in mind is that honesty is paramount. It is so important that you are being sincere about how you feel. This is an opportunity for a reboot and you can’t expect something beautiful without sincere candor.
Yep, it’s hard work
The root of relationships is connection and so the most rudimentary purpose of a reset is to reconnect with your partner. This can obviously be accomplished a number of ways, but again, I’m sharing what has worked for me.
Before we get to the fun rainbows and stuff, let’s chat hard relationship work. If you can see a therapist by all means please seek out a professional to help guide you on your relationship reset journey. If not, there are soooooooo many wonderful resources available online. I’ve found many couple surveys and exercises that therapists have shared. This link has a lot of couples therapy worksheets, many of which Jo and I have used. Here is another great couples worksheet resource. We’ve also watched documentaries and read scientific studies that are related to the issues that we’re working through. While this works for us, again, it may not work for you, so get creative. Whatever you do, if you all are committing to making it work, do what it takes to make it work.
Fun Rainbows and Stuff
Because of logistics, it’s basically impossible for Jo and I to have a regular date night. It just doesn’t happen. We’ve had maybe 6 date nights in the last 2 years, which is not ideal for spending quality time with each other sans the kid. If this is not an issue for you, establish and commit to a regular date night. Like what are you waiting for?! Relationship maintenance is important and date nights are just one small act that can help to reinforce the importance of your relationship.
If you have a situation like mine, where it’s hard to actually get out of the house together, you’re not off the hook! You thought I was about to cut you some slack! Ha! Nope, you still need to have regular time together and I’m not talking about just Netflix binging together. Jo and I alternate who is responsible for planning our date night and they almost always occur after Camille has gone to bed. Our most recent date night was a late-night picnic. We bought some of our favorite picnic foods, spread out a blanket on the living room floor and ate and played games together. It was so simple and it was really fun.
I cannot sing the praises of The Dating Divas enough. I almost don’t even want to explain what the website is about, I just want you to go … like now. If you are in a relationship, open up a new tab and go now. It’s that serious. There are soooooooo many phenomenal activities that I’ve taken from them that have done wonders for my relationship. Okay, I’m not saying anything else about them, just go.
One thing that Jo and I have yet to do is to take on something new together. Several months ago I joking suggested that we take on square-dancing. While our square dancing journey lasted all but a day, it was a fun activity for both of us. While square-dancing might not be your thing, find something new that you and your partner can take on together. It will allow you both the opportunity to get to know each other in a way that you hadn’t before. Exploration and discovery can spark joy in a relationship where the passion has started to flatline.
All-in-all, if your relationship is one that you value, do what is necessary to preserve and enjoy it. If it wasn’t clear, let me explicitly say that this can look different ways. If something isn’t working, be flexible and try something else out. Here’s to having the most fulfilling relationships possible!