The art of being in a happy, long-term recovering relationship in the 21st century requires diligent work. There is nothing easy about it, and no one I know is jumping for joy at this fact. Including moi. Maybe we've all gone soft in the age of technology and a world that offers immediate gratification, but it's time to get clear about what comes easily and what does not.
You are always going to have to be more focused on your partner's thoughts and feelings than on your judgments about his or her thoughts and feelings.
If you plan to have your partner walk around feeling good about your relationship, then you are never going to get away with being mean or insensitive, being unwilling to bring apology and forgiveness to the party, or forgetting what is important to your partner in life.
You must stop blaming your partner for the suffering you experience from being in a long-term recovering relationship. Everyone can seem annoying after an extended period of time, and that includes you.
You must have a way to calm down your own anger, anxiety, fear, and resentments that come up in your relationship. You can only depend so much on your partner's help with this. He or she will not be turned on to you if you need to be babied too often, complain too much, or feel entitled to be soothed in simple ways that you should be soothing yourself.
You have to know how to convert good feelings that crop up for you back into your relationship so you and your partner stay buoyant with love and connection. For example, you see a cute puppy and think, "Aw. How adorable!" Next, you take that good feeling and text your partner: "I just saw the sweetest puppy, and it made me think of you." (Obviously, if your partner doesn't want to be seen as a cute puppy, those are not the words to use. But you know what I mean).
You don't get to rest on your laurels and think, "I can now ignore my partner's cues for sex, hide from his or her distress, or snooze when he or she is telling me something important because, after all, I was super nice last week." Pouring love and connection into the relationship is a daily effort.
The sooner you let go of the idea that a hearty, happy relationship can be achieved without solid focus and action on your part, the faster your happiness quotient will go up. This is one of those concepts that make more sense once you've experienced it, rather than just understand it conceptually. If you start today, you can look forward to making progress every week toward greater and greater satisfaction, not just with your partner but with yourself.
Upcoming events to be announced.