Relationship? Dating? What relationship? What dating? The drill is the same for millions of Black men and women. The alarm clock buzzes loudly in your ear. You get the kids up and out of the door, then head to your job, while your spouse does the same. After work, there is homework to check, soccer practice or music lessons to cart the little ones to, and dinner to prepare. Before you know it, the day is gone and it’s time to get ready to repeat the process all over again.
With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it seems like there is hardly enough time to do the things we want and need to. The extra stuff—like spending quality time with your spouse—often gets put on a “to do” list, sandwiched between ironing school uniforms, paying bills, and dropping the car off at the mechanic. Romance? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
You love your man, and you know his love for you is there as well. So why do you feel like that “ol’ lovin’ feeling,” the excitement you felt when you first fell for each other, is plain lost in the sauce of the gumbo called life?
“When there’s not much tenderness in exchanges or spontaneous touching throughout the day or much laughter between the couple, these are pretty reliable indicators [that the relationship has lost some of its sizzle],” says Dr. Keith A. Bolton, Senior Pastor of the Liberty Christian Center and International President of Liberty International Family and Educational Services in Hartford, Connecticut. “When our conversations are less about feelings and more about facts, it’s a sign that our relationship is drifting into household maintenance mode.”
“Also, when you become bored with your partner, it is a clue that you have lost the connection with the part of you [in him or her] that you used to find exciting,” says Dr. Leslie Parrott, who co-directs the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University with her husband. “When you feel connected, you want to share everything, both good and bad.”
Rebecca Ward, who has a general psychotherapy practice in Little Rock, Arkansas, and takes special interest in relationships and marital therapy, adds that if the partnership is not running smoothly, the family unit won’t either, since the marriage is the heart and generator of the family. “Keeping the marriage vital is imperative to the health of the family,” she says. “Respecting this and being pro-active about serving the couple unit is mandatory.”
If you find that you and your partner have dipped into an unhealthy lull, where household tasks take precedence over, say, a romantic hug or two, there are some ways you can dig yourselves out, recharge your relationship’s batteries and reconnect with your mate.
Here are that you can get the love (lust?!) back into your relationship:
1. Make the Investment — There are no quick fixes. It took some time for your relationship to get off kilter so it will take some time to get it back on track.
<center<“I had a young woman in last week who has three children. Two are involved in sports—which means that she and her husband are at games four out of five nights. Often they split up so one parent can be at a game with one child and the other parent at another with the second child,” she says. “There is a church night also. That’s two nights remaining, and they also get eaten up by meetings and obligations. STOP! Take charge of your time. Don’t wait to FIND the time—make it and take it.”
3. Communicate Clearly — If you aren’t getting what you need from your partner, speak up. Using non-threatening, non-criticizing words like “I feel” or “I need,” instead of “You never” or “You don’t,” is a good way to have your message heard.
4. Be Pro-Active — Don’t wait for an opportunity to present itself. Take the bull by the proverbial horns when you and your spouse make the decision to re-connect.
6. Little Things Mean A Lot — Whether it is putting the toilet seat down, not leaving her car on empty when you borrow it for the day, or greeting each other at the door with a hug, the small you-matter-to-me things you do for each other speak volumes.
7. Share Meal Times — Busy African American families often eat meals on the run. But that half-hour at the dining room table helps partners stay in tune with each other’s day-to-day routines. “Sit down and share at least one meal once a week,” Dr. Parrott suggests.
8. Court Your Honey All Over Again — Sure, you probably didn’t have shared household responsibilities or kids to raise when you were dating, but you always found time for your significant other. Re-create that by setting aside a weekly or monthly night or lunch date.
9. Take Care of “Negative Withholds” — Those nagging resentments that haven’t been resolved tend to distance you from your partner. Keep them from coming back and biting you in the butt by setting a regular time to discuss them. Dr. Parrot suggests airing current “negative withholds” only. Here’s a tip: They have to have occurred within the last 48 hours.
10. Ride It Out — Romantic lulls in relationships are not uncommon at all. “Couples who experience a lull should not panic or get ready to jump ship,” adds Dr. Bolton. “People think that a lack of romantic feeling and expression is a sign of a failing marriage. That’s not the case. It is a sign of a normal marriage that needs nurturing, like every other thing that is alive in the universe.”