Spring has sprung. The air has a new feel to it — one of rebirth, beginning, clarity and abundance. This happens every year, and yet I still find Mother Nature so graceful when adapting to change. She lets go of the old (in this case, everything about winter we care to leave behind us once spring arrives) and embraces the new in a way we humans never dare to do in our lives.
But as always, we can learn a thing from nature. As spring is upon us, the trees, the flowers, the sunlight and longer days (and more) are all clear reminders that when things start to get dry and dull, we can (and should) loosen our grip on what is no longer serving us, in order to invite in new energy.
One of the best examples of this change can be found in our relationships. Relationships have seasons: happiness, sadness, joy, and pain. As a spiritual adviser, I see so many people suffering in relationships — couples dealing with losing their spark, fighting, sex issues. The list seems never to end. And in many ways, pain in relationships is inevitable.
What do I mean by that? Well, whenever we enter into an intimate relationship, we invest time, energy, emotions, and a lot more. So when things start to get hard, things will feel painful. Our minds tend to start holding onto judgments, assumptions and other stories.
But the secret to a successful relationship is not always in holding on, even if, as I said, pain is inevitable. Sometimes it’s the power of letting go that makes it successful. And by "letting go," I don’t always mean breaking up, getting divorced, or walking away from a relationship. Letting go here refers to resolving your problems from their roots, being open, honest, and vulnerable with your partner. And after you do that, you may both realize that you’ve changed as people, and it’s time to release each other from your bond.
Here are three signs it may be time to start re-evaluating your relationship. Sure, these warnings may always be present in your relationship to some degree, and in many situations, they mark a very temporary phase. However, when these symptoms start to overwhelm you or become impossible to ignore, it’s time to start really thinking critically about your relationship ...
1. Anger becomes a frequent emotion.
In the beginning of your relationship, there is passion, romance, laughter, and friendship. Yet at some point, anger, frustration, disappointment (or any variation thereof) makes its silent entry into the dynamic. And often, we don’t really know when that shift happens: when the "honeymoon phase" comes to a close and real life starts to settle in.
In most cases, the shift is so gradual that it kind of leaves us dumbfounded when we start to think about why and when it happened. It can feel as if all of a sudden, there are more arguments and resentments in our relationship than there are hugs and laughter. If this is the case, anger is a symptom of a bigger problem. Treat it from its roots. Talk about the reality of the situation with your partner. If you can withstand the discomfort of the conversation and support each other through the mutual difficulty, then the anger may not be as much of a problem as you thought. In any case, treat anger from its roots, because suppressing it will only make it worse.
2. You no longer feel valued.
You are a unique person. If someone wants you in their life, they will create the space for you. You shouldn't have to fight for it, rationalize why you matter or why you are worth someone else's time, flaws and all. In fact, your partner must understand and appreciate you beyond your flaws. You are not your mistakes. You have evolved with time, so the relationship has to evolve too. Valuing your loved one unconditionally is a great booster of self-esteem and respect. Feeling valued in a relationship is a nonnegotiable, plain and simple. You need to be able to feel authentic, and honored for your authenticity, by the person that you love.
3. Sex becomes nothing but a way to cure boredom.
Sex can happen without love, and love can happily survive without sex, too. In this sense, you shouldn’t glorify the importance of sex in a relationship (even though many of us tend to do this, and often end up sabotaging our sex lives by worrying so much!).
But there are moments when sex is the best way to express love. However, there are also moments when sex becomes a tool to cure the boredom or other problems in relationships. Boredom, resentment, guilt and other unpleasant sensations don’t happen in relationships because you stopped having sex. Hence, these issues won't be resolved if you start having it. You have to dig deeper and decode the cause of boredom in your relationship. Once you find it, you may be able to rise above the drama and regain your long lost romance.
Any of these signs are worth discussing with your partner, and that exercise may be a way to assess the health of your relationship. Above all, trust your intuition, because you are more than your feelings of suffering, and you can (and will) rise above it.