What exactly do you do to "work on a relationship"
December 30, 2010 10:02 AM Subscribe
I want to salvage my relationship but am not really sure of the nuts and bolts of rebuilding trust and commitment. If we want to be able to say we gave it our best shot, what does that look like in practical terms?
posted by Pomo to Human Relations (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've recently had a series of painful heart-to-heart conversations with my live-in SO of 4 years, and need some guidance about next steps.
By way of background, we have generally a pretty charmed life. We agree on the big things, support each other, and, I thought, were deeply in love. He is very affectionate and complimentary. We virtually never fight. I sometimes feel taken for granted in terms of our balance of chores and such, but we're working on that.
A couple days ago after my return from Christmas break, we ended up talking seriously and I found that he felt a bit withdrawn from our relationship and that he thought I was feeling the same. I have for the last couple months been feeling symptoms of depression, and our work schedules are at complete odds. We haven't had a lot of fun "us" time lately, and my feeling blue and not sharing with him didn't help. He said he was worried that maybe we were losing the spark, as he's never been in such a long relationship and didn't know if ups and downs like this were normal. I told him it was normal and we agreed to try to overcome this together. He said he felt better already and loved me.
The next day or so things felt a bit weird between us, but I chalked it up to the soul-baring and each of us needing to process it all a bit. However, tonight we talked about it again, and with a loooottt of questions from me I have learned that he has a new work crush that he feels is "overwhelming" and that he is worried it is a symptom of the aforementioned withdrawn feeling -- the stuff he had *actually* mentioned in our previous chat.
I do believe that he hasn't made it physical, and has only known this person for a couple weeks. She will likely leave the office by mid-January. However, he said he finds her really attractive and they flirt during the day and chat online. He has also told me that he sees no future with her, doesn't feel an emotional connection at this point, and that it's purely physical. His concern isn't so much that he might cheat, and ruin our relationship, although that's part of it, but moreover that he must be feeling tempted for a reason: that it must be a sign things aren't good to us, if he's even feeling this way. It made him feel confused again, despite our productive conversation two nights earlier.
I've used the many, many excellent answers from previous relationship questions on this site to guide our conversation. I realise that temptation is a natural part of being human, and that long-term relationships will have their ebbs and flows. I feel betrayed by the fact that he took it this far with her, behind my back, but I am able to forgive if we can move on.
After that most recent discussion, he has confirmed that he wants to work on our relationship and see if we can get back to where we were earlier this year, before work stress, winter blues, and busty temps got in the way. I trust that he means it, though I do worry that seeing her for another month will undermine our progress. What I need are the details of HOW one goes about "working on it." Are we supposed to go to counselling? I don't think we have trouble communicating at all, so not sure if it'd be useful. Am I supposed to forbid him from talking to this girl? Ask to see all his emails? Email her myself (oh god, is that what people do in these scenarios?)? Are we supposed to set up date nights so we can "reconnect"? Should we set a timeline to reevaluate by? It all sounds cheesy, but I'm a novice at this stuff.
Please tell me what are the best, most concrete steps one can take to work on a relationship if we are both committed to making a go of it.
Also, if you feel that I'm completely naive for trusting his intentions here, I'm ready to hear the hard truths.