THAT TIME MY RELATIONSHIP KIND OF FELL APART & WHAT I DID

Thursday, August 02, 2018 Cape Town, South Africa


It's been a while since I've felt truly happy. Wait, no. That's not right. It's been a while since I've felt truly happy in my relationship. When I hear people talk about their weddings and their proposals and their love, for the longest time I just felt incredibly anxious. Anxious because so much of what I wanted to tell them was negative. Anxious because I know that they are about to enter one of the most challenging phases of their lives. Anxious because I just didn't feel anything right about being in a long-term committed relationship.

Now I feel I need to clarify something before I continue. When I say I that I haven't felt happy, I mean there is an absence of happiness. I don't mean I'm sad. I don't mean I'm unhappy. I'm just kind of "meh".

There's this weird kind of cohabitation that happens after a certain point in your relationship. You move from being passionate and in love to being more like roommates. A lot happens in between. Things like debt and children and bonds and work stress and health stress and questioning where you are in your life. And then this thunderclap of incredible ambivalence sounds and you just kind of float. You exist without trying. You don't go out of your way to be happy and you don't go out of your way to fight. You just tick the boxes and go through the motions and then the second thunderclap strikes and this time it's not ambivalence its a claustrophobic kind of despair. Where did the love go you wonder? Why does everything have to be a fight? I don't even know what to say to this person and my God we made kids together what will I do if this ends? Will I manage? You slowly start to think about a world where your relationship no longer exists and it is scary. Or maybe it's not. Maybe it feels like a kind of weird mutated version of relief and then, then and only then do you begin to feel truly unhappy.

The thing about relationships is that they are really difficult. They don't come easy. And while you may love someone so much it hurts to imagine a life without them, keeping that love alive is a choice. You wake up every day and chose the love you have. And when you stop choosing, you stop trying and when you stop trying, eventually you'll stop loving. Regan and I are slowing pulling ourselves out of a patch of intense "meh". Making the decision to switch the lights back on is a daily choice. Some days it's an easy choice, as easy as falling into each other's arms and making out on the couch. Some days it's difficult, so difficult that I can't imagine how we ever got here. But it's a choice none the less.


There are a few things we're doing to ensure that we have more easy days than difficult ones though. And that's really why I'm sharing this. A few weeks ago I shared some relationship truths on my Instagram stories and I got so many replies from people telling me how much it resonated with them, people telling me that I wasn't alone, they felt it too, people asking me what we're doing to put our relationship first. So here are the 3 things we are focusing on right now:


Give each other the best 

Is this a no-brainer? I'm not so sure. Often I will come home from work, completely spent and completely incapable of being a mom, a cook and a parent. I know that my children need the most from me, so by default, they get it. Then Regan gets home and I literally have nothing left for him. The best case scenario is that he gets a scrap of my time, but the truth is, more often than not, he gets nothing. When I say that you need to give your partner the best I don't mean fall at their feet and lavish them the attention and affection you don't actually have the strength to express, I mean that when you communicate, do it with kindness, be sincere, feel empathy, all the ways you may be feeling exhausted, lonely and a little lost, your partner is probably feeling as well. Never forget that this is the person you chose. The one you decided to create lives with, that is worth something. That is special. And you should never stop treating your relationship like the gift it is.

Say yes to sex 

Errrrrr, ok. So let me clarify. I don't mean go with it if you're really not into it. Building a relationship that thrives on healthy intimacy is a daily choice. When you first get married, intimacy is easy. You tend to fall into each other laps in a flurry of passionate kisses and cuddles and even more passionate sex. But then the kids come along and with them, they usually bring stress about money, which in turn leads to stress about work and before you know it, you're trying to remember when exactly you last touched each other because you wanted to. Look, you're not alone. Maintaining intimacy in a long-term relationship is not easy. And while sex isn't everything, honestly, it is the easiest way to feel connected with your partner and when it's absent, well, the connection can feel absent as well. Stop trying to create the perfect moment for intimacy, stop looking for the right signs, embrace right now, this season of life you find yourself in is not fraught with romantic moments. It's a quickie in the bathroom while you run a bath for the kids. It's silent sex early in the morning because you can't wake the children. It's locking your bedroom door for 10 minutes on a Sunday morning so that you can enjoy just a brief moment with your partner. This is a special kind of intimacy.

Never stop talking 

As soon as you let the struggles you face take over, you stop talking. You communicate out of necessity, you fight, you unleash barbed, caustic comments, you lash out, you employ passive aggressive communication with absolute ease. You drift. You drift so quickly. I love to fight. I would rather have 1000 fights with Regan than 1 moment of tense, angry silence. Because I know that when we are fighting, we are talking. But it's so easy to get stuck in a rut where all you do is fight and someone once told me that while fighting is healthy if you fight too much it means you're not friends. Be brave enough, to be honest with your partner. When they hurt you, tell them. When you hurt them, listen without jumping to defend yourself. If we are all entitled to one thing, it is our emotion. We own our feelings and just because someone may feel something that you disagree with, doesn't mean they are not entitled to feel that way.

Whether you chose to rely on faith or therapy or just yourselves, never ever think that you are alone. All relationships go through difficult times. I really do believe that the best things in life take a ton of work. Falling in love is the easy part, staying in love, making a life, being a family, that requires a bit of grit.

Nikki
Xxx

15 comments

  1. You had me in tears. This is all so true, throw into that mix a partner that’s away sometimes 80% of the year with no schedule to plan on... We’re together 17 years this year and everyday is a choice 👌🏽

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    1. Oh my love, this comment means the world to me. Thank you. It is a choice and as long as we remember that, we live to fight for love another day.

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    1. Thank you so much lovely! So excited to meet you on Saturday!

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  3. Perfectly summed up marriage! Best to you both!

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  4. I really needed to read this today.

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  5. Nodding nodding nodding along. Thank you for this Nikki. A very important reminder.
    Kx

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  6. I needed this a lot more than I care to admit. Making a marriage work is tough, with kids, bills, house work, etc. there is zero energy for each other. I always say that my husband is super patient because he gets a shred, if anything, of my time and then I wonder why we fall out. But we are working on it a bit more. Beautiful post Nikki!

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  7. And here I was thinking I was the only one experiencing a rut! Great piece and great advise. Thank you

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  8. Very true and I've certainly been there. Thank you for being brave enough to share this.

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