In anticipation of Z Living's upcoming original show Altar'd (premiering January 17), where a bride- and groom-to-be take on a 90-day fitness challenge to lose weight before walking down the aisle, we're collecting and telling a series of relationship stories. Check out more about the show here!
When you enter into a relationship, the initial honeymoon phase sometimes feels like it will last forever. However, after several months (or even a few weeks!) we begin to grow and change as people. These are a few obstacles that could challenge a relationship, though there may be many others that could contribute to a couple growing apart as well. Many of these obstacles are common and almost unavoidable, therefore, couples especially need these three key tools in their arsenal to grow together instead of drifting apart.
1. Communication: Learn How to Talk it Out
Communication is essential for a healthy relationship, and should always be on-going between a couple, even when things are going well. After all, it's easy to clam up and, rather than lie, simply omit your true feelings. This behavior can easily cause passive aggressive traits, because when couples don’t communicate the truth to each other, suddenly there are limits on how much they share and how much they can be themselves around each other. And this, eventually, can add an extra layer of negativity to an already tough situation. Whether the obstacle to clear communication is grief, work, or health, it’s important that couples talk and share together in order to grow. Otherwise, they can easily feel isolated, and gradually grow apart.
Also on Z Living: How To Reboot Your Relationship Using Love As Your Guide
2. Listening: Develop Your Skills & Increase Your Emotional Intimacy
It is just not enough to simply be able to communicate any hardships you're going through, but it's also essential to develop listening skills so that your partner feels comfortable communicating with you as well. Listening helps to increase emotional intimacy, assists your partner in feeling cared about, ensures your ability to problem solve, enhances trust in each other, and can further strengthen your union. Though listening seems like a simple thing to take on, what it really means to fully promise to take in what your partner is saying with the intention of finding a solution. The key to listening to things that may be hard to hear is to embrace curiosity. Read more on curiosity from Z Living’s article The Value of Curiosity To Deepen Your Relationships.
3. Committment: Make a Pact to Stick Together Through Hard Times
The true ability to grow together as a couple, instead of apart, is the ability to commit: deciding to stick through the hard times and to do the necessary practices to make a relationship great. Remember, a commitment is different from a promise, because a commitment is an action. A commitment is something that must be practiced every day in order to work. Making the commitment to communicate and listen to your partner isn’t something you do just once, but an action that is repeated again and again. So no matter what a couple decides to do in order to solve their obstacle — spending more time together, going to counseling sessions, or taking on a gratitude challenge — the important part is to take on the action of commitment...and stick to it.
Also on Z Living: 7 Big Reasons To Do A Gratitude Challenge This Year
Facing a Specific Challenge? Check Out These Solutions
Here are a few potential obstacles that could present additional challenges in your relationship:
Will my partner be okay with my job promotion?
Some people live to work; while others work to live, either way the distinction is very different. When entering a relationship, a couple may be on the same page about the time they spend together and the amount of time they work. However, time could present a promotion or a job lossage, causing the relationship to change dramatically. To ensure wellness in one’s workplace, as well as one’s relationship read more from Z Living’s 6 Feel-Good Ways to Promote Wellness in the Work Place.
Will my partner stay with me even though I'm grieving?
There are a variety of losses that someone could go through; anything from a loss of a family member, to the passing of a beloved pet. It is likely that after a death, a person would go through grief. WebMD explains that grief has an ability to change a person; rather they become more emotional, isolating themselves from socializing, or even completely losing their appetite, grief can consume a person. Having a grief stricken partner could cause an obstacle for a couple and they would need to plan to grow together.
Can we overcome boredom or disinterest?
The longer the relationship, the easier it is for partners to become disinterested in each other, or even take each other for granted. According to the Irish Examiner, it only takes a couple two years of marriage to become bored with each other. It’s also common that one person could become disinterested, while the other maintains the same enthusiasm when the relationship began. This can easily cause a wedge in the relationship and make people grow apart.
Also on Z Living: The First Step to Creating a Life You Love
Can we stay together, despite a mental illness?
Though mental illnesses usually develop during childhood or an early age, it is a possibility that they can appear later in life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 75% of mental illnesses starts at 24 years of age. It is possible to be dating someone and they have, or begin, a mental illness. A mental illness, depending on the person, can change the personality. This could change the dynamics of a relationship. Both partners would have to be committed to growing together to make the relationship work.