After 40 years of marriage, two children, and aiding in the transition of elderly parents, James and Joan were the very best of friends.
They were such good friends in fact, that when James decided to tell his wife he was leaving her for an old flame from 41 years ago, he honestly – hand on heart – thought she’d be okay with it.
They’d reconnected via Facebook just three weeks previously.
Now, James didn’t expect Joan to be overjoyed by the news…
…No, nothing unreasonable like that.
But he was convinced they could separate on good terms.
I bet you can guess how that turned out.
And you’d be right.
It went very badly.
But how had James got the idea his wife wouldn’t be too upset about him leaving her for another woman?
Sure, they were the very best of friends.
And they worked well together as a team managing the business they ran, supporting adult children, and handling the slings and arrows of life.
But there was no passion or intimacy between them and sex had disappeared many years before.
Unfortunately, the loss of affection is a common experience amongst couples who’ve been together a long time.
Relationship therapist Terry Real explains it like this…
“When couples get together their energy is ‘face-to-face’. They’re wrapped up in each other, they make people around them sick with their infatuation for each other.”
And then life happens…
Work, mortgages, children, DIY, redundancy, illness…
…You know, life.
And over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, the energy of the couple changes from ‘face-to-face’ to ‘side-by-side’.
They’ve set up a life together and now they’re in the trenches, living life, fighting to keep their heads above water, and in the process, they lose connectivity to each other.
To extend this theme, many of the long-term couples I work with, have gone one step further…
…They’ve moved from ‘Side-by-side’ to ‘Back-to-back’.
They sleep under the same roof maybe even in the same bed, but the bills are pretty much all they share together.
Soulmates have become cellmates.
For those with children, this situation often comes into sharp focus when the children grow up and leave home.
Empty nest syndrome – a combination of loneliness and grief when your children leave home – strikes thousands of parents each year.
And then you look at your partner and find yourself thinking: “Who is this person?”
It’s very sad…
…And all too common in couples that have been together for a while.
And if this post is ringing a bell with you, if you find yourself nodding in agreement and saying: ‘This is my relationship…’ then the good news is:
There is a solution.
It’s couples therapy with me.
To get started…
You’re still here?
You’re saying you’re not in a position to schedule a session with me yet, but you’d like something concrete you can use to help reconnect with your partner.
I’ve got a gold nugget for you.
It’s a note I made whilst watching a Jordan Peterson video:
The Key To A Happy Marriage
If you don’t want to be bitter about the intimate part of your relationship…
…The question is, how much time do you have to spend together each week?
Here’s a snippet from my favourite psychologist – Jordan Peterson:
My rule of thumb from clinical observation is you need to spend 90 minutes a week with your partner talking.
That means you’re telling each other about your life and staying in touch so that you each know what the other is up to.
And you’re discussing what needs to be done to keep the household running smoothly…
…And you’re laying out some mutually acceptable vision of how the next week or next month is going to go – Together!
Doing this helps to keep your narrative locked together like the strands of a rope.
You need that 90 minutes or you drift apart.
And you need to spend intimate time together at least once a week, probably twice and that has to be negotiated…
…If you don’t negotiate it, if you don’t make it a priority then It Won’t Happen.
And then you start to lose intimate connection with your partner, you start to lose meaningful, pleasurable, and bonding time with your partner.
And then a part of your relationship dies – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
…And then there’s always the possibility one of you will get tempted by an alternative entanglement.
…Well, you can guess how that’s going to end.
When I ask couples how much time they schedule per week to sit down together, without distractions, to:
- Plan the week ahead
- Discuss what’s going on in their life
- Explore their relationship
The answer is always: “Zero”.
You might want to install this habit into your relationship.
Here’s a tip to help you…
…Think of “90 minutes” as a target. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting, that’s probably going to be too intense and unsustainable.
…Schedule 30 minutes, once or twice a week to do this stuff. And take it from there, make it fit in around your lives.
But make sure you stick to the schedule.
Commit to it.
Treat each meeting like you’d treat a meeting with your boss, or your doctor.
I could go on about how important this is, but I’m hoping you’ve got the point.
And if you’d like my support helping you and your partner to reconnect, stop being just friends and get back some of that ‘Face-to-face’ energy you used to have…
Here are the following services I offer:
Face-To-Face – 2 Hour sessions together in my office in Dawlish
Two-Day Intensive – 5 hours of couples counselling in two days
Zoom-Online – 90-minute session via video conferencing