Companionship is highly discounted by many in long-term relationships. Sure the sex has dwindled and the fire is not as heavily stoked as it once was but domestic co-dependency can be hugely emotionally supportive. Take strength however in knowing you can re-ignite your long-term relationship with some risk taking if you have faith and courage.

Over time it is quite normal for couples to establish ways of behaving that are not nurturing to the relationship and by that I mean there is nothing feeding the relationship to grow forward. A quiet acceptance takes place where everyday life is comforting but each person, who has individual needs and perceptions, compromises to boredom, voices are not heard and individuals not validated. Communication lines stall when this happens.

Now there is nothing wrong with boring and nice if everyone is happy with that. Ask yourself now on a scale of one to 10 how happy you are with your life in your present relationship. Any score less than five needs confronting. There are some basic skills and new behaviours a couple can easily learn to bring that back to a much higher figure. However, both partners are going to have to take some risks. But have faith, baby.

Taking risks with your relationship is like holding hands in the dark while using a lantern. The lantern gives off enough light so you can just see one step ahead of you. You don’t know what is going to happen but faith in your relationship will get you through to growth.

Okay let’s get practical. First we need, together, to take a serious look at what each person perceives the relationship to be. Couples are constantly surprised to find out partners have different perceptions than theirs. Next we can take a look at any annoyances that have been let go to compromise. Maybe that ribbing is not really that funny any more and maybe the ‘other’ can do more around the home. This is conducted in a safe counselling environment.

Maybe sex issues have to be brought out in the open, especially for couples together for a long time. It is confronting but discussion can really lighten the load of any built up resentments. Couples can be given suggested skills to re-ignite their lovemaking or maybe agree to change their sex contract where partners can experience sex outside the relationship with well-defined rules. Boys are usually better at this than girls. It is up to the couple to discuss and agree on what they want and feel safe with.

Easier skills to develop are finding ways to open up better communication channels, discuss ways to avoid behaviours that one partner finds irritating but the other humourous and looking at methods to please each other with new behaviours. Family and other relationships might also require an airing.

So if you feel you are in need of rejuvenating your relationship, hold hands, grab a lantern and take those first steps into the dark. If you have the inner faith about the sincerity of your relationship then you are heading for growth. It could be a whole new adventure into your relationship.

Gerry North is a gay couple counsellor and can be contacted at gaycounselling.vpweb.com.au or email [email protected]

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