Friday, November 14, 2008

Is Your Relationship Mediocre?

Mediocre Relationships just Happen?
Often people give more attention and care to the purchase of their homes and autos than their life relationship. Many enter a lifelong relationship believing that the intensity and passion that sparked the beginning of relationship is everlasting and will overcome all challenges. Little thought is given to the cost and ongoing input required to maintain the relationship.
Life happens even to those that know the thrill and rush of new love! Events such as the birth of a child, change in finances, career moves, and relocation can factor in to affect the quality of a relationship. As life happens, the relationship can take on a flatness or mediocrity that is often accepted as normal. Typically, it is believed that love that has lost its passion and can’t be recovered.

Fixing a Flat… Relationship!
When a relationship seems to have become flat, a lot of energy may be given to recover the passion or‘re-ignite’ the fire. The recovery attempts are usually focused on the relationship and ways to fix the relationship. The problem is seen as an external problem to be repaired or resolved. Partners may place blame for the failing relationship on situations, others, themselves or their partner. Blaming contributes nothing to the intended goal. It is a sign of withdrawal of partners from one another. When their efforts fail, the energy that was once expressed as passion and excitement in the relationship is re-directed into work, child-rearing, hobbies, etc. Success of the relationship becomes evaluated in the performance of children, acquisition of material things such as home and possession or achieving prestige. Rather than continuing the efforts to repair or restore the relationship, the couple begins to accept mediocrity as the inevitable.

Passion Fruit!
Quality relationships are created! The passionate and juicy relationship that brought two people together seemed to just happen – it was effortless! The effortlessness of the early stage of the relationship didn’t seem like work, where as recovering the mediocre one seems impossible. They perceive the required effort as overwhelming! Einstein suggested once, that the way one sees a problem is the problem. The problems don’t lie with another person, circumstances or situations. The way the relationship is perceived – as a separate entity - becomes the challenge to improvement. A relationship is the space between two individuals. Space by definition isn’t an entity or thing. The relationship or space that exists between two separate individuals is filled with the energy both partners bring to it.

Your Most Important Investment
Your primary love relationship is the most important investment you will ever make. True wealth is found in valuing and nurturing your human potential and is expressed by your capacity to relate to and nurture those that are closest to you! Valuing and nurturing a quality relationship begins with you. It begins with a commitment to personal growth and understanding that a relationship or the space existing between two people is a reflection of the quality of energy that each brings to that space. What kind of energy do you bring to the space between you and your partner? Friends? Children? The effort you put into creating a quality relationship is an investment that will pay dividends throughout your lifetime and the lives of those you encounter.

Call to action
1. Describe what you believe are the typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship?
2. Share a story of a couple that has recovered passion in their relationship.

10 comments:

  1. I like that you're trying to help people develop their relationships. What I find intrusive is the abstract, psychological tone, replete with too many phrases I've heard since the first self-improvement seminar I attended in the '70s. Could you stay with the light, conversational tone that makes for far easier reading, when you do it? Nouns like "space" and verbs like "create" and "perceive"and the nearly presumptive use of "we" and "our" make sections hard to approach.
    There is good stuff here but sometimes the writing style seems professorial rather than friendly. I say "sometimes" because the style is so often friendly and warm.
    There it is. And sorry for any offense. None was intended.

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  2. Dear Anonymous, thanks so much for your candor. The quality of your comments reveals wisdom. I need this kind of feedback and will give more effort to use your insight in my future efforts.

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  3. Russ, I have had two years of living 3 hours from my husband and I never thought I could say we've grown together more because of it, but it's true. We live as if we're newlyweds again. Time together is precious and we love and respect each other more now than ever before! When we do get to live together again it will probably be a big adjustment!
    I daily am thankful that we're still in Missouri and not on some foreign mission field or my huband off to war. There are much worse fates! I can honestly say that absence has made our hearts grow fonder. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone unless they know God has called them to this type of season. We've been married 25 years and look forward to at least another 25 more. It may be God's answer to menopause and mid-life crisis.
    I appreciate reading about this topic Russ, but I agree with the previous writer that I know you have sooooo many practical experiences and ideas that could be used intertwined with your intellectual bantering style!
    This could be fun as this is my first "blogging" experience, but I'm still too new at all this technical stuff to not get in trouble because I do something wrong. It took me two weeks to be taught how to text on my cell phone! - Linda (I don't know what a profile really means either and I don't have a face book or my space page because I already can't keep up with my 5 email accounts.)

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  4. Linda, Welcome to the blogging world. Basically, a blogging is simply having a conversation. Enjoy! Your relationship description points out some of the key aspects of a quality relationship. Time is valued because of wanting to be with each other. Time in a mediocre relationship is something to be filled - according to Eisenstein, time is relative - time with someone your love seems not to exist; but time with someone you endure goes on and on.

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  5. Our 32 year marriage relationship ebbs and flows. I believe that it is not indicative of a relationship that is in trouble but rather a time for for each individual to have self-reflection and growth. One partner may grow more than the other but the coming together and sharing of the new self seems to deepen the relationship beyond its previous level. For anyone worried about being in a low, it is my experience that it is time wasted on worry, it will return as long as each partner is ultimately committed to the relationship AND to themselves as indiviauls.

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  6. I can answer Call to Action 1, but not 2. That may not be surprising.

    The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

    These sentiments seem to generate an enormous amount of grievance that is difficult to let go of. In fact, within a few years of marriage, the sacred vows of love, honor, obey, and trust have all been shattered. The last, "foresaking all others" is thus not far behind. It's interesting that we focus on fidelity so much and lump the others into "irreconcilable differences."

    Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?

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  7. After 30 years of marriage, I certainly recognize my wife and me in the post. We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.

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  8. I think when the relationship has dwindled, we have become selfish. We begin to expect things from the other person and when that doesn't come we get disappointed and discouraged. I think to fix or prevent this from happening is to put the other person first. The only person we can change is ourself. When this is done you will be amazed at the changes in the other person. I am speaking from personal experience. Also we put God first in our relationship. That has been a big help for us. There was a time early in our relationship that the only thing keeping us together was our commitment and faith in God. Marriage takes commitment and work. Communication is a big help. It is wonderful to be married to your soul mate. The hard work is worth it. I know we will have our trials together but we are not alone, we will work together to pull through.
    Miriam H.

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  9. Is my relationship mediocre? Well I would say right now that it is....mainly from the sexual side of things. Not in anyway my husbands fault but mine. I am struggling with this issue everyday, praying about it but still haven't found a way to deal with it. I underwent a hysterectomy 2 years ago, then last year they had to take my ovaries. I talked at length with my husband the possible problems that would happen after this last surgery and he repeatedly assured me that I would be fine. Well, I wasn't fine and it has affected me horribly. I couldn't take hormone replacement pills so I am dealing with this forced menapause on my own. I feel so bad for my husband as I go through this. I don't want to hurt his feelings but I know that I am when I don't return his affections. I am always finding an excuse as to why I am not ready to go to bed ie. work on the computer, do the dishes, work on paperwork, pick up the kids after a school function etc. I have talked to him about it outside the bedroom when things are calm and we have time to talk but I don't think it makes much difference when that time comes later in the week. I feel guilty, I feel ashamed but I can't bring myself to do something that I have do desire to do. That's not fair to him or myself. So, I make up for it by being affectionate during the day or laying in his arms when I do go to bed. I have to be careful not to send the wrong message though. I have talked about this problem with doctor's and they are at a loss because I can't take the medicines available and of course the mental health experts have all these things that they tell you to do to make things better but when it comes down to it, I still don't have the necessary desire there to go through with it. I love my husband dearly but the desire just isn't there and I don't understand it. When it comes to our sex life I can actually say that it's mediocre. An area that needs serious work. It hasn't been like this before the surgery because he would complain that he needed his rest a lot after we got married! ha ha. So, I am hoping that in time and with prayer that we get through this. I know that our relationship is strong enough that we won't split up over this or find someone else but it makes it extremely difficult for us as we go through it. All in all, because of our deep love for each other and our committment to this marriage, the absence of our normal sex life is just a lull in the lifespan of our marriage. I do all that I can to make up for the loss and hopefully as we go through this, we will become stronger for it. As we get older, there will be times in our lives when one or the other can't have sex for various reasons. Remember that it's only a temporary portion of your life. Try not to look at it as a futuristic problem. Be there for each other in other ways. Then when the time comes, your passion and ability to respond to each other will be so much more demonstrated! Thanks for allowing me to share this difficult subject matter.

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  10. I may be alone in this, but I really appreciate the words you used to describe 'relationship'. It struck a cord with me and similar to the idea that you can't spend relationship credit you haven't earned, it wakes us up to the reality of the space between two people as being just that: space. That space remains as nothingness/emptiness, void of meaning until something more than good intentions, fills it. I believe words are a powerful gift. I thank you for your choice of words and the succinctness of your message!

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Reader Comments

"...My spouse and I have been married for 32 years and I've experienced our relationship from giggly in bed, to passionate in bed, to mad in bed to "sleeping" in bed...As we grow older the intimacy definition changes for me. Intimacy also for me is just sitting quietly, or driving for miles quietly or walking just hearing our footsteps crunch the leaves, holding hands. My usual struggle in intimacy is in my head - I have to intentionally stop my daily to do list, my past and future stuff and live in the present moment..." Pam

it's ... smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion

“We have found that passion ebbs and flows but we set a goal for our relationship a number of years ago that is working for us. At least every six months we do something that will create a lifetime memory. For us, we love to travel, so it's been pretty easy to find something big to do that will create that lifetime memory, but sometimes it's the finding of smaller things to celebrate that create the real passion.” Steve Rae


What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?


“The "typical beliefs that people have when the “fire” seems to have gone out of a relationship" I believe are a) that you feel your partner should have changed or should not have changed and b) that you feel you should change or that you should not have changed.

Acceptance of yourself and your partner leads to forgiveness. What'll arouse passion more than the feeling of being forgiven?” Brian Massey



A word from Russ Hardesty

The realm of relationship is mysterious; filled with magic, surprise, excitement, passion, intimacy, loss, disappointment and creativity. I am fortunate to have a life partner who is at once a mirror, teacher, lover, nurturer, student and companion. In this place of mystery, I continue to grow into a mature, loving and free man. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and comments – which is a gift to me! Thanks for joining the expedition! Russ