When the relationships between partners starts to detach it's usually a drip, drip effect, over a period of time, sometimes years. Sometimes both partners don't even realize things are getting awkward until it is too late.
This drip, drip effect sometimes is not realized by one partner but the other partner feels disillusioned and not having there needs met. They then try to talk to the other partner but the other partner can fail to hear their distress. This leads to arguments and the breakdown of the relationship. Sometimes the family relationship can go on for a long time, reliant on the "making the family work". This can be through the guilt of one partner not wanting to rock the boat so to speak, or from a feeling of responsibility or maybe some of both.
They usually come to Counselling when the end of the road is reached and it's the last ditch attempt to make it work. This is not necessarily the best time to try to bring the relationship back from the brink. Both partners should check out the relationship on a regular basis and see if they're needs are being met and they are happy. No relationship is ever 100% happy but most survive because they have a joint purpose that they both want to make happen, so they put up with little niggles or frustrations which are quite normal in relationships, especially these days when there is so much pressure on the relationship from outside influences, be it work commitments, the society media understanding of what they should have or little support in helping them cope with the demands of the world. Most families are distant now-a-days when they used to be very close and supportive, due to possible relocation for work, extended family loyalties etc.
Once the communication has disintegrated and they can only refer to the logistical aspects of the relationship, which one does the shopping, sorts the bills, looks after the kids, brings the finances in etc. Then the couple relationship really starts to be ineffective and detached. This loss of the connection sometimes does not even appear until the children are older and going there separate ways, leaving home, going to college/university etc, when the couple have to relate to just themselves and how that interaction works, or doesn't, as the case may be. This is were re-making connections comes in, trying to establish a joint stable connection without others being involved what I call "Quality Time"
The relationship is always under pressure to find the time and energy to connect with each other; other things are always more important, finances, work, children, extended family commitments etc. This is a message that we receive from most of society, family etc, and the interaction and responsibility of having and looking after children is very important and has to be done. The most important link however is the relationship between the two adults, if that diminishes then the whole family unit begins to break down. We are always bombarded with messages of not doing or being enough, via adverts, television, peer pressure etc when in fact most people, even children, just want to be loved and accepted. Not having the right label may be a drag but not having a mum or dad around will be missed much, much more.
"Quality Time" is a recognized and planned time which is not interfered with or lost; it is planned and happens unless something really important needs to take precedent, i.e. someone admitted into hospital or similar. This "Quality Time" is used to give the relationship time to bond and connect, the regularity is up to the individuals and as long as it is planned, and happens, then whatever time frame is good for them is ok. Now we have to do something constructive with that time and some people have no problems filling that time with something exciting and satisfying. Some people who have lost this bond find it hard to think of something to fill it with. This is where, something I term "Surprise Jars" is helpful. "Surprise Jars" just means that each party fills their surprise jar with things, activities, they would like to do. Not what they feel their partner would like to do, but what they would like to do. Then in the allocated "Quality Time" slot they take it in turns and throw a dice to see which person goes first, They pick out of their partners jar, one of their activities and the person giving the surprise takes responsibility for that to happen, they organise it and makes that surprise happen.
This does two things
1. It shows the other partner that you care for them enough to actually give them a treat, which validates and respects them and if it was something that you personally didn't much want to do then that's a double bonus, you're doing it just for them.
2. You can never be wrong, the activity that you are organizing is the very thing they asked for, so it excludes the gamble out of making sure that the partner would like that activity, less room for error and less stress.
This will re-connect and strengthen the bond of the relationship, give fun a much needed injection into the relationship which we could all do with more of in a relationship. Relax the couple and build communication between them.
This way of constructing a "Quality Time" can also be used in numerous ways, with children, for example each child having a "Surprise Jar". In Sexual Connections each partner having a "Surprise Jar" of things they would like to be done to them, which does not abuse anyone's boundaries – maybe a clothed jar and an unclothed jar, in bed or out of bed maybe, the possibilities are endless.
If we are constantly re-enforcing the bond and our connections within a relationship then that relationship will be much more able to stand the test of time and be more interactive, bonded and happy.
If there was a golden rule of what makes a relationship and having a happy and fulfilling relationship then the interaction of communication being effective, open and honest between the partners must be at the top.
Seventh Ray on 10/01/2010