Around my house that’s actually a good thing, seeing as I’m deathly allergic to anything that blooms. But I know that’s not what the phrase means. It’s referring to that ambivalent stage we reach in our relationships when we don’t have the time to do those little things that meant so much in the beginning. So, what do we do when our relationship takes a back seat to our day-to-day life?
The first thing is to take a step back and really look at the relationship. Are you still doing the things that drive your mate crazy? Surprisingly, a lot of people never stop to ask themselves this. They’re too preoccupied with what they’re not getting to look at what they’re actually putting into the relationship. This is definitely a time to lead by example. If you stoke the embers, who knows, maybe your mate will feel more reciprocal.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes more than an example to get your significant other back to the early days. If you’re making a vigilant attempt to bring things back to where they once were, but your mate still isn’t pulling their weight, what then?
That’s when I’d suggest open, yet tactful, dialogue. Crazy, I know. And yes, I can hear you gnashing your teeth and yelling, “But if I have to tell him/her what to do it’s not the same!” That’s where I call B.S.! You can’t expect your mate to be psychic. It’s just not fair.
Yes, it’d be great if they’d do the things that make you feel appreciated and loved without being asked, but let’s be realistic. There are a million ways to show someone you appreciate them; if you don’t tell your mate how you want it expressed, you can’t blame them for not knowing. When you do talk to them, keep the conversation considerate, specific, and remember to use the word ‘I’ more than the word ‘you’. For example: “I would really appreciate it if you could do dishes two or three times a week.” Or “I miss the way we used to go for walks at dusk.” Notice I did not say, “You never help out around here!” Nor did I say, “You never do anything romantic!” The object of conversation is to help your mate come to a better understanding of your needs, not to prove you’re the martyr in the relationship.
Finally, when your mate does do something romantic or appreciative, remember to thank them. I can’t stress this enough. Let’s say you’ve asked your mate to do dishes two or three times a week, but they only get it done once and the dishes weren’t put away the way you like. Say thank you! Nothing discourages change quicker than being scolded for trying. And no, that does not mean you can say, “Thank you, but I seem to recall asking you to do this more often.” There should never be a ‘but’ in a thank you or in an apology. It negates everything you just said.
It’s important to remember, however, that no one can be “on” at all times. There will be times in any relationship where one partner or the other has time and emotional constraints placed on them that make doing the little things difficult. It doesn’t mean your relationship is over, or that the relationship will forever be the way it currently is. Relationships are very fluid, they change with our lives. Be patient and supportive of your mate, and when the roles are reversed, they will do the same for you.