We head to the Doctor for an annual health check, yet when it comes to our relationships we wait until it’s too late before we seek help, with studies telling us that it takes six years of unhappiness before couples realise they have a problem.
Like any illness, early detection of issues in a relationship are the key to restoring the love and connection between a couple.
So how do you know when it’s time for you to give your relationship a health check?
There are 5 key signs that you should look for that will let you know if your relationship is potentially in trouble.
1. Lack of intimacy or desire to have sex
2. You keep having the same argument over and over
3. You have stopped listening to each other
4. You are leading separate lives under the same roof
5. You are tempted to flirt with others
If you are experiencing one or more of the above, then the alarm bells should be ringing and urgent action is required to begin to repair your relationship.
The first step is to check-in with your partner daily, yes daily! Take 5 minutes a day to check in with your partner and ask:
How do you feel about our relationship, are we all good?
Do you feel that I am taking you for granted?
Are you happy in our relationship - do I still make you happy?
Do you feel that I have made important life decisions without including you?
What can I improve on to make our relationship better?
Is there any resentment(s) towards me that you ae holding on to?
Of course you do not need to ask all these questions every day, but these are the questions you need to ask now if your relationship is struggling. It's the spirit of curiosity and interest in your partner that is the key message here.
Once you have worked through these, then make a pact as a couple to truly engage with each other every day by asking – are things good between us?
Spend 5 minutes every day focusing on only each other and you will see subtle shifts in your relationship that can lead you both to feeling safe and secure. Relationships with the quality of safety and security thrive and passion can be found that may have even felt at times gone or lost.
As you commit to this pact, ensure that every month or two that you discuss really important issues. Especially between couples who have been together for some time or those who have children enter their lives.
Talk about your sex life by asking:
Do I please you sexually?
Are you happy with our sex life?
Are you happy with frequency we make love?
When it does come to sex, what’s the ideal number you ask?
Well the research tells us that once a week is fairly common, however in my experience every couple is different, and in many cases that come through my office I find that when couples get serious and really "check the numbers," they can be quite surprised with the answer. We can so easily make assumptions that our partners sex drive is lower or higher than our own. When truly checked and tested a couple can be more on the same page than they think.
Ultimately the right number is the number that has been agreed between the two of you. Maybe it’s once a week, multiple times a week, or once a fortnight and the number does not matter as long as you are both on the same page with the level of intimacy and neither of you feel pressured.
Are we still on the same page around how we handle or spend money?
Tell me, what do you want for our future plans financially?
Do you want to build our investment nest egg, or is that something that you have not considered?
Do you feel that I support you with the children?
Are you and I happy with the education we have chosen for our kids?
What could I do to support you better?
Do you think I am too harsh or too soft on the kids?
Yes, these questions will stir the pot a little and some may even be provocative and that is the point, as when we don't understand our partner, or know what they are thinking, it can become threatening. Getting to know your partner or even be an "expert" on them can lead your relationship into positive ground that you may not have both experienced before.
If you do not know your partner well enough to have these important conversation’s that can mean that you may be unsure of their commitment to the relationship long term, or whether they even care about your needs and desires. Opening up dialogue can be necessary if you want to keep your partnership nourished and engaged.
If as a couple you find that you cannot check in with each other comfortably and have a win-win outcome, then it may be a good time to see a trained couple therapist, particularly if these issues have become “stuck.”
Couple therapy does not always take months or years. With a skilled therapist they can help you loosen the binds that have kept your relationship from evolving to where it should be.
If you are “stuck” then treat your couple therapist as you would the family doctor, find a good one and book in for a relationship "health check,” what have you got to lose? Well when you think about that, pretty much everything if you don’t, so therapy is well worth a try.
Remember, always enquire with the therapist you choose by asking if they are specifically couple therapy trained and educated with a college, university or institute.
Wishing you all love and connection in your relationships!
For more tips, daily quotes and information about love, dating, relationships and happiness visit my Facebook page Melissa Ferrari - Psychotherapist & Relationship Expert. Also available is information about couple therapy and how it can help your relationships.