These are 1) Negligence, 2) Disinterest, and 3) Contempt.
Negligence means that you are making other things more important. It can begin a slide of disinterest of what matters most to the other person, and then silently rolling your eyes, and being critical of what they want or need.
Disinterest can wiggle in when you notice that once funny stories become tedious repetitions of what you already know. Habit replaces adventure, comfort replaces change, and reading replaces conversation.
Now I have to say that I love my habits, like running and coffee in the morning. I love my comforts like eating good food, curling up in front of the TV, and picking roses from my garden, and I love to read. There's nothing like a good book to transport me to a new place without leaving my house!
So how could any of these things impact relationships? When they result in thoughts, words, or actions that exclude the other.
You can reverse this by:
1. Attention instead of negligence
2. Involvement instead of disinterest
3. Acceptance instead of criticism
Here's the practice with someone you care about when you notice the early warnings that could foretell a distance creeping into your relationship.
Reach out and say hello
Even when you live with the person, say hello in a way that is felt and connects. Look at someone when you speak. Sit down knees to knees, find out what's happening in their inner world as well as the world of work, family, and goals. Then listen. Don't try to change them or solve a problem; instead, create spaciousness in your relationship with authentic exchanges of affection, laughter, and being yourself.
Do things together
When you're involved intensely for some time, your bond with another person strengthens, and can even stand the test of distance. Think of good friends where one person moves away, and you see them once in a while, and when you do, time disappears, and there's only the delicious moment of being together. In close relationships, you'll find shared interests. What do you like to do together? More relationships end because there are fewer and fewer shared interests. I'm not talking about pretending to be interested! When the kids are grown, and you look at each other, what do you see? Love, contentment, new conversations, and spiritual journeys? Involvement is key. What brought you together in the first place is a foundation for continued awakening. It can be as simple as taking a walk together, eating, talking, asking questions, and snuggling.
Be careful not to cast your opinion in stone, which can lead to distancing from anyone who doesn't share your opinion. Suspending reaction is valuable because you often don't realize you are reacting with judgment until you're deep into the emotion or acting out of anger, frustration, or indifference.
When you criticize or overreact, you're communicating that the other person is wrong! How about being interested instead? Then you have the opportunity to listen generously and make the relationship more important than winning the argument.
If you can catch any reaction when it first starts to arise, as a feeling in your stomach, or a tightening of your shoulders, or a rush to judgment, you can pause, take a breath, and be quiet. You don't have to clean up what you don't say! Take a breath and replace judgment with compassion. What would it sound like to speak from compassion or not at all? Cultivating an inner quiet as a response has its core in connection and presence. A moment of mindfulness can slow down your answer, so you remember that you love and appreciate this person.
Today watch for the signals and note the three warnings of relationship fatigue. Do something about these indicators before something in the relationship goes south, and you wonder how to get the love back.
Pay more attention to each other, increase your interest and involvement. A deeper connection will be your reward.
May your day be peaceful and productive
Paulette Sun Davis