The first thing to do if you’re stuck in a rut with your partner

Long-term relationships can be incredibly fulfilling and meaningful. But they also change over time, for better or for worse, and it’s not uncommon to go through periods where you feel a bit stuck in a rut.

“A relationship in rut is when one or both partners feel emotionally and/or physically disconnected and the relationship no longer offers the same degree of fulfillment, excitement, or security as it once did,” Joanne Frederick, a licensed professional mental health counselor in Washington, DC, told HuffPost.

“It’s just a lull in a relationship where the chemistry or the spark doesn’t feel as strong and there’s a fizz in the connection between the partners,” she added. “A relationship rut can show up in not spending as much time together, not prioritizing each other, or not feeling as excited or passionate about each other. engage in physical or emotional intimacy. A relationship rut can present as a feeling of boredom in relationship dynamics and a feeling as if the relationship has become monotonous and unfulfilling.

Ruts are often characterized by miscommunication, unmet needs and expectations, feelings of distance, and repeated conflict. Although these periods can be very difficult, they are not insurmountable. The key is to take action.

We asked Frederick and other relationship experts to share what they think is the first thing someone should do if they feel stuck in a rut with their partner. Read on for their answers.

Draw attention to it

“The first thing someone should do if they feel they’re in a rut with their partner is to call attention to it. That doesn’t mean aggressively confronting their partner. It would be healthier for a partner pointing out what he “noticed” and compassionately asking his partner for feedback on what he noticed is the first step to healthy communication, which is the foundation for repairing relationship ruts. ― Steve Alexander, Licensed Mental Health Counselor at NY Wellness

don’t panic

“First of all, don’t panic! Relationship ruts happen to the best of us. Take the temperature of the relationship and get feedback from your partner. They may feel the same. Don’t take the rut too seriously. Allow you and your partner to inject some levity and fun into collaborating around how to get out of your rut. It takes two to co-create a relationship rut, so why not use the same creators to get you out of the rut? Have fun with it. Maybe it’s time to take that trip you’ve both been dreaming of. Maybe it’s time for a wild night on the town, or maybe it’s time to introduce toys and new sex positions to the bedroom? Your options are many, varied and only require a little imagination and effort. ― Omar Torres, psychotherapist in New York

look inside

“The funny thing about relationship ruts is that it always seems like it’s the other person’s fault. So the first thing people usually do when they’re in a rut is complaining to their partners, asking them to fix it. This usually doesn’t work very well. This is because relationship ruts are caused by two people. Even if one person is unmotivated or is a stick in the mud, how you approach that difficult person can make a big difference.So the very first thing people should do is this: Ask yourself, “What did I say or do over and over again without good results?” Once that similar behavior has been identified, commit to doing something, something completely different. ― Michele Weiner-Davis, Boulder, Colorado, marriage therapist and author of “Divorce Busting”

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The key to tackling a relationship rut is taking action.

Be honest

“I strongly believe that we should be honest with our partner about feeling disconnected. We may be surprised that they feel the same or maybe they had no idea and it sparks a conversation about how to improve your intimacy again. We expect partners to be mind readers, but in my personal and professional experience, this concept is nonsense and constantly backfires. ― Logan Levkoff, sex and relationship educator in New York

start small

“Recognize that you and your partner are individuals separate from the partnership. A person needs to break through that frustration and identify that they feel like they are in a rut and therefore the relationship is in a rut. Identify your individual needs, characteristics and interests. It helps you see yourself separate from the relationship and therefore recognize that your needs in the relationship are also different. Small things have a big impact. Start by doing the easy things first to build momentum for more important things, like spending more time together. Make the relationship a priority. Emphasize the positive aspects of the relationship. ― Noorhayati Said, psychotherapist in New York

Perform regular checks

“In order to effectively work to mend this rut, couples must be willing to intentionally put each other and their relationship first, which includes setting aside daily and weekly time to connect. I encourage my couple clients to set aside at least an hour or two each week to engage in “check-in,” where the couple asks each other specific questions, such as, “Are your needs being met? “Is there anything I could do better to make you feel loved?” ‘What are you most proud of this week?’ ‘What was your biggest struggle this week?’ ‘What do you think is going well for us?’ ‘Where could we improve?’ » ― Frederick

Relationship experts share what they think is the first thing someone should do if they feel stuck in a rut with their partner.

Eugenio Marongiu via Getty Images

Relationship experts share what they think is the first thing someone should do if they feel stuck in a rut with their partner.

try something new

“Taking responsibility for ‘joining’ the rut. “I feel like we’ve gotten ourselves into a rut,” or better yet, “I want to feel closer to you,” and then try something new in the relationship. If you don’t do the dishes, surprise the other person and do the dishes that night; having sex at random times of the day; bring home flowers – anything that is representative of your love language and will ignite a flame in the relationship. Ruts that aren’t brought to light become relationship death, and relationships are meant to keep you alive and growing. Once the fire is lit, continue! ― Diana Gasperoni, founder of Be.WELL. Psychotherapy group in New York and New Jersey

Recognize the positives

“BStart by acknowledging your partner’s daily acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. When we get into these ruts, we tend to focus on whatever our partner is doing that is frustrating or unsatisfying. Instead, take the time to recognize small gestures and acts of kindness. A little appreciation goes a long way.Amelia Flynn, licensed marriage and family therapist in New York

Focus on teamwork

“Learn to negotiate and solve problems together. Learning to solve problems successfully ends fights and power struggles, and therefore leads to more intimacy. Learn to focus on what will work rather than who is right or wrong. The most powerful thing you can do to maintain a strong relationship is to form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared for and needed. If you really want to restore the relationship, don’t start by complaining but by trying to understand your partner. Once the connection is established, you can start troubleshooting. ― Tina B. Tessina, psychotherapist in Long Beach, California and author of “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Relationship”

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.


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