REKINDLE LOVE AT ANY AGE
Love is an important factor for our emotional well-being. While some can fill that need through friends, pets, community or other outlets, many of us look to intimate relationships for love.
Below are some scenarios you might relate to—looking for new love, adding spark to a long-term relationship or mending a family bond. Each is followed by advice from PacMed Behavioral Medicine specialist Rebecca Wolff, LMHC.
Keep in mind, relationships are complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all advice for everyone. We encourage seeking additional support if needed.
Keep the fire burning
Tia and David have been married for 15 years. They have a healthy marriage, except their whirlwind romance early on has cooled significantly in recent years. Privately they wonder, “Will we ever have passion again?”
“With any relationship, the amount of time you devote to it is what you’re going to get out of it. Find ways to show love for your partner in the way they experience love. We often show love in the way that is most meaningful to us, even though our partner may feel loved in a totally different way. Have a conversation to discover what feels meaningful to each other and incorporate those ways of showing love into your everyday lives. Also, look for activities you enjoy doing together. Life gets busy, so schedule shared activities on a regular basis to help maintain a strong connection. Finally, don’t let technology supersede your relationship. We often spend too much time watching TV or on our phones, so our partner may feel a disconnect or unvalued.”
Find a new flame
Anita and Jim met in college, married and had three wonderful children. Tragically, Anita was left to raise them alone when Jim passed away unexpectedly. Two years have passed, and Anita is open to exploring relationships again—but she’s not sure where to begin.
“Online dating is a popular go-to for dating and can work for many people; however, it can be helpful sometimes to ground dating in a process of self-discovery as well. Focus on finding new activities you might enjoy—join a new group or get out of your comfort zone a bit. Maybe take that trip you’ve always dreamed of. Put yourself in a situation where your senses are awakened, and you’ll be more receptive to meeting someone along the path.”
Repair a scorched relationship
Anthony had a close relationship with his daughter until the divorce. Despite shared custody, he felt his daughter favored his ex-wife. Then, a series of minor disagreements with his daughter led to her cutting off contact with him. Now it’s been a few years since they spoke.
“Repairing a family relationship is a big challenge. In those situations, each party genuinely feels hurt. As the adult, you need to be willing to hear a tough conversation and let your guard down to really focus on what the other person is saying. It requires self-reflection. Ask yourself honestly, ‘What have I contributed to this situation?’
“Whether the breakdown is with a child, a parent or a sibling, it’s important to accept each other for who you are. Not for who you always hoped they would be, but for who they actually are. This goes for yourself as well. Learn to begin from a place of self-compassion, to allow yourself to fail and try again. When you realize no one is always perfect, it’s easier to extend kindness and grace to those you care about the most.”
Rebecca Wolff, LMHC, sees patients at our Renton clinic. You can see Rebecca, or one of our 20 other Behavioral Medicine providers, if you have a PacMed primary care doctor.
- Authors John and Julie Gottman: 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage; Eight Dates
- Airplane mode for your phone during dinner or date night
- Meetup groups: www.meetup.com
- Individual/couples/family counseling