If you are in a serious long-term relationship, you’re more than likely to experience a slump. In fact, you can experience multiple so-called slumps throughout your relationship. We often have terrified couples coming for online couples counselling fearing that their slump signals the end of what was a very healthy and loving relationship.
So, the one thing we cannot stress enough is that one or even multiple slumps throughout a serious relationship are completely normal – especially when you start ticking off those double-digit anniversaries. A slump doesn’t mean a one-way ticket to Breakupville. It means that there’s some work to do, but the majority of the time a slump is completely fixable. It’s when a slump is not taken care of that it turns into a more serious situation down the line.
The Difference Between a Slump and Something More Serious
If you’re wondering how to not confuse a more serious relationship situation with a slump, there are a few important differences:
There’s Some Sort of Focal Point (or Points)
A serious relationship issue is normally pretty easy to pinpoint and marks a sort of crisis period within a relationship. Some of these issues can be fixed by discussing the issue and providing the couple with the right tools to get through the situation during online couples counselling.
But, sometimes, sadly, it does mark the end of a relationship where online couples counselling can help you part ways amicably and feel like you’ve at least got some closure. Some serious issues can be at play when you hear things like this: “I still want children, but now she doesn’t anymore”, “he spends money on all sorts of unnecessary things”, or “she always does this when we fight; never talks, just runs away!”
There’s a General Sense of Discontent
When you hit a slump, it’s an overall and general problem that affects most aspects of the relationship. For example, nothing is really wrong in the relationship, and nothing has changed, yet something’s off.
This can manifest in a multitude of ways. This includes things such as the sex decreasing (or even stopping completely), a general feeling of disconnect, or feeling like the relationship has evolved into a roommate situation even though you still love each other very much.
What Causes a Slump?
There are many reasons why couples experience slumps throughout their relationship. Some of the most common troublemakers are:
It’s human nature to start taking things for granted. It’s the ocean argument. Many people will tell you how much they love the ocean, spending time at the ocean, and how badly they want to live by the seaside. And when they finally do move to the seaside, that’s exactly what they do; spend a lot of time at the ocean… till year 2 when the novelty has worn off (the ocean’s always going to be there now, right?)
Hectic Work Schedules
This is when we start feeling like passing ships. We either say hello or goodbye coming in or out of the door. And the rest of the time, we are so drained that we simply don’t have any more energy to give to our personal lives.
There are certain times in our lives that may impact our relationship, but that is simply unavoidable. You cannot have a partner that lovingly dotes on you, who you go on all sorts of romantic outings with and have a mindblowing sex life with when they’re battling cancer and going through chemo. It’s simply unrealistic.
Yet, it’s important to acknowledge the impact the situation may have on your relationship and help you work through the feelings that come along with it. These situations often have some complex emotions attached to them. This includes guilt on both sides; the healthy partner feels guilty for feeling “neglected”, and the ill partner feels guilty for unintentionally turning their partner’s world upside down and not being able to give them what they would like to.
This is very similar to physical illness, but with the added drawback that a mental illness isn’t always so obvious and is not always easily diagnosed. For example, your partner may be more irritable than usual, have lost their sex drive, and seem tired all the time, but you may not realise that they are suffering from severe depression unless it is properly diagnosed. This is also where online couples counselling has proven to be very helpful.
When everything is the same, day in and day out, and nothing new and exciting ever happens, we can lose our lustre for life and for each other.
Conflict that’s Not Dealt with Properly
This is the type of slump that you need to take care of asap since this one can snowball into something serious very quickly. This is when someone says something that hurts your feelings. But, in an attempt to avoid conflict, you don’t talk about it. Yet, it keeps bothering you, so you withdraw a bit and sex is definitely off the table. Before you know it, a week’s passive-aggressively gone by and your relationship is not in very good shape.
Get Out of That Slump!
As we mentioned, a slump is normal, but it doesn’t mean that you can leave it unattended. Otherwise, it can turn into something more serious. Although we’ll always recommend that you book online couples counselling sessions to discuss the situation and how you got there in the first place, the following are a few things you can do to start getting yourself out of that slump:
Up the Affection Levels
Make a point of touching each other. Whether it’s holding hands in the mall, touching an arm in conversation, hugging, you name it. Physical affection has been proven to not only release all sorts of feel-good hormones but play an integral part in bonding in a relationship.
Go Back in Time
Whilst a lot has changed since you were those two kids in their twenties who met each other at a rock concert, it’s still worth reminding each other about the feelings and emotions those two lovebirds had for each other during those early days. Reminisce a bit, remember how you once felt about each other, and let it serve as inspiration for how you can feel about each other again.
Do Something New Together
The best way to get out of a rut is to get out of that couple’s comfort zone. Instead of staying in and ordering takeout, try going to the new restaurant in your neighbourhood that’s got rave reviews. Or instead of watching Friends reruns on a Saturday morning, go for a hike.
Let Your Partner Know What You Appreciate About Them
In long-term relationships, especially long long-term relationships, verbalizing our gratitude for the other can become less and less. Remember how often you used to tell her how pretty she is? Or remember how often you told him that you loved him? Start making sure that you let your partner know exactly how much you appreciate and love them.
Start Dating Again
Sadly, this is also something that often comes to a grinding halt once a relationship becomes serious; we stop making and getting excited about date nights. So, bring the good old days back and get back to dating and having fun! You don’t always need to be so serious when in a serious relationship.
Remeet Your Partner
You’ll be surprised how much a person can change; from their ideas to their dreams, interests and more. And you might be surprised how many of these changes you have missed even whilst having lived with this person for a decade or more.
So, take on the challenge to “remeet” your partner. Ask them the same type of questions you initially asked to get to know them. Where do they see themselves in 5 years now? Are they interested in picking up a new hobby? What’s their favourite movie now?
Write a Letter
Many who struggle to voice their feelings find it easier to write them down. So, if you have concerns or regrets or just deep love for your partner that you struggle to communicate to them verbally, try writing them a letter.
Identify When it’s Really “Not You, It’s Me”
What if you’ve hit a slump, but you’ve also realised that the problem doesn’t lie with the other person? For example, what if you’ve figured out that you might be the one struggling with Depression? Or that you might be the workaholic in the house?
Whatever it is, in these situations we would recommend both personal online therapy for yourself as well as online couples counselling for you both. You’ll need to start diving into and addressing your own issues, but also allow your partner to voice how it has impacted them and try to mend the disconnect.
As you can see, a slump is not the nail in your relationship coffin if you’re both willing to address it and work on it. Personal online therapy and online couples counselling can be very helpful in getting you out of that slump. So, if you think that you’ve hit that bump in the road in your relationship, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Personal Online Therapy website. Or, you can even complete the form below, and we’ll contact you instead: