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Want your relationship to move forward? Go back to the beginning

May 1, 2017

Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start 
– “The Scientist” by Coldplay

Relationships are not easy. Sometimes they can be a real struggle. And when that happens, Coldplay has it right—take it back to the start.

Dana Ingram, LCSW, a social worker with SIU Medicine Psychiatry, says there are some common reasons she sees couples come to her office for counseling. Dealing with increased stress that impacts either or both moods, poor communication practices, lack of focus on the relationship, illness, financial difficulties, parenting differences, different expectations for the relationship—these are issues that can cause marital struggles. But they can be overcome, if both people are willing to work on it—and willing to look back.

If your love has hit a rocky patch, ask yourself why you and your partner chose each other in the first place. That’s what Ingram recommends. “What characteristics did they see that made them want to be in a long term relationship with this other person? What made them fall in love with this particular person?” she asks. And then she tells them to take it beyond words.

“It’s not enough to remember what brought you two together, you have to sometimes look back and remember and then bring those memories back to life,” Ingram says. “Relationships need nurturing, attention, and at times, refreshing to return the focus back to what started everything to begin with. If you were romantic, become romantic again; if you are affectionate, hug your spouse.”

Being mindful about the relationship’s beginnings doesn’t just remind people why they fell in love in the first place. By remembering the care that was taken in the early phases of love, couples can remember how to be good to one another.

If the spark has faded from your relationship, Ingram recommends asking yourselves these questions:

  • When you first fell in love, what were you doing to make sure you kept the attention of your partner? 
  • Were you doing things for each other? 
  • Were you listening without interrupting?
  • Were you sharing ideas and responsibilities to make sure you were living compatibly? 
  • How did you communicate about ordinary life issues and how did they manage crises back then? 
  • Were you more respectful? Considerate? Affectionate?  

Consider your answers and try reincorporating some of the “old” into the new. If it was good enough to win your partner over, it’s worth doing again to win them back.