Relationship Fixes and Nixes


After our New Year’s resolutions have begun to fade and before our Valentine’s Day hopes ignite is a very good time to consider some relationship repairs.

Easy fixes and absolute nixes are what we all need, and while the fixes may be easy to identify, they are harder to put into practice.

First Date Focus

The very word “communication” can turn our hearts and our libido off, but maybe a better approach to relating to each other is to call it First Date Focus. We have all been on that incredibly important first date where we really connected with the other person and were fascinated by the tales they told and actively engaged in the give and take of talking and listening.

While we still may be with the same first date, we no longer may be really communicating. Granted it is easier to listen when the stories are all new, but a little bit of that same conversational affirmation on a day to day basis is a great relationship fix.

According to psychologists and psychiatrists, we spend much of our personal lives not feeling heard by the very people we love the most. For men, the hardest part of day to day conversation is talking enough, and for women, the hardest part is that men are not responsive enough. Men often complain of conversation overload and women complain of a conversational desert.

If both sexes could remember the art and emotion of the First Date Focus and vow to apply it every day, we all would feel more connected. At least we can try.

Just Us…Starring In Our Own Lives

The term “date night” has become hackneyed, but the reasons for it are emotionally healthy. Everyone now is simply too busy. Stay at home parents are expected to be caretakers, cleaners, and charitable leaders. Working parents are stunned with expectation overload in a troubled economy with technological advances that keep everyone available on a 24/7 basis. What’s a couple to do?

The answer is to remember that the whole constellation of children, mortgages, cars, schools and even friends began with the explosion of when your two hearts met. If you do not devote some time and attention to each other, that entire constellation can and probably will fall out of the sky. You have to keep the relationship “us” centered – two against the world and two together. The only way to do that is by absenting yourself even for a few hours from the daily same-ole grind, and pay attention to the wonderful, special twosome that you are.

Growing Together…Passionate Pursuits

Both in and out of the bedroom, after the hormonal high wears down, a good relationship takes effort. It may not be romantic but it is reality.

One easy fix is to begin something new together. Whether it is golf, tennis or cooking, and even if one of you knows more about it than the other, activities can be great glue and, by the way, stimulating.

Generally, your friends are people you like to be with and who are doing things you like to do. And often the best of lovers are the best of friends. There is a memorable line from the Shawshank Redemption which is a great moral for relationships: “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying.” Every relationship that is not on its way up is in danger of going down, so get busy living happily ever after together.

Three Absolute Nixes

If you want your lives to be happy, avoid like the plague the temptation to DEMEAN the one you allegedly love. Cheap shots are so easy and very tempting in the heat of battle, but they leave emotional scars no matter who wins the war.

As a family lawyer, I hear the wounding stories from broken couples over and over. Words are like arrows and cannot be taken back, so it is better to just not say it in the first place.

Even worse than private sniping is the public DENIGRATING of your significant other. We have all seen it and been mortified by it – even when we were not even the intended victim. The odd thing is when one denigrates their loved ones publicly, they make themselves look hateful to everyone within earshot.

Finally, do not DISMISS those things that matter to your loved one even if they seem insignificant to you. Whether it is as large an issue as religion or as relatively small as a spotless car, pay some attention to that which matters to the one who matters to you. Usually the effort to be at least respectful, if not wholly responsive, is not that burdensome…and the payoff is at least peace and maybe even joy!


About Gemma Allen

Gemma Allen is a partner in Ladden & Allen, Chartered, and has practiced family law for most of her career. Ms. Allen has written more than 50 articles and lectured on topics that include divorce, child support, maintenance, mediation, cohabitation, women and money, and reconciliation. She co-authored The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On! and helps you navigate modern relationships in “Relationship Gems.”