Help me rekindle the romance and passion in my relationship.
June 28, 2012 6:37 PM   Subscribe

How can my girlfriend and I rekindle our relationship after a few months of rockiness?

We're both women. I'm 22 and she's 23. We've been together a little over a year.

We've had a lot of ups and downs the past few months. It started out with her coming out to her family and losing her relationship with her mother and sisters, which re awakened some anger problems that she brought home. We went through a tough time because of it, and she went to therapy and has mostly gotten over it.

We moved in together last month. We fought a lot because I wasn't keeping the house as clean as she'd like, and I felt unappreciated for what I did do and the number of hours I've worked etc. She felt stressed out about the mess and I felt like every little thing I did was wrong. We had a lot of mini-discussions about the dynamic and eventually it led up to a big blow-up with me crying and saying she wasn't happy with our life together and living with me. I broke up with her at that point. She apologized and said she'd try to complain less, and I've been making efforts to keep things clean even when I just want to come home and lay in bed.

Despite this, I was still angry over the issue and was a complete jerk to her for a few days. Shortly before all this happened I'd started a new medication for depression which was throwing my emotions out of whack (I was crying all the time, suicidal, more depressed than before, etc.) Which is no excuse, but definitely a factor.

Anyhow, we've recovered from that but we still bicker and fight frequently. We have our good moments as well, but because of what's happened we're both extremely afraid of losing the other. I also have the additional fear that she's falling out of love with me, which she's assured me isn't true. She fears that I'm going to break it off with her again if we have a disagreement because I broke up with her about three times in about a week. (I personally feel this was more due to me being a hysterical mess on that medication, but again not an excuse).

Anyhow... I guess I don't necessarily feel the backstory matters, but I wanted to include it just in case. We've both hurt each other a LOT in the past few weeks and have acknowledged that things need to change. We've also acknowledged to each other that we're still just as in love as before, and that we believe things can be saved and are committed to forgiving each other, allowing ourselves to heal and making things work. I'm still very much in love with her and who she is as a person. We've had an amazing relationship and I feel the recent rockiness is due to us behaving badly under stressful circumstances and perhaps not discussing things like cleanliness well enough before we moved in together. She also feels the rockiness is due to stress and she said she's scared about our future but believes things will get better.

Going forward, I'm interested in some daily activities or some such we can do, something small to rekindle the romance and chemistry. We don't have a lot of time together (she works 40+ hours and a week and I work 53+) or a lot of money so things involving that aren't feasible.

The one thing we've tried that I really liked was the computer game Bliss, which is a board game that gives you questions like "Tell me about the day you realized you loved me" and activities like "Massage your partner's hand for two minutes." I found it to be quite helpful in bringing are closer, so things like that are a plus.

I want her to know she's appreciated and loved. I tell her this already, now I'd like to show her with little romantic gestures, you know... things of that sort. I guess I'm rambling because I don't know -exactly- what types of things I mean, but I guess that's why I'm asking here!

Things I do already:
Cook breakfast, pack her lunches when she has a long day at work, put in the extra effort to make sure the house is clean, bring her home surprises like her favorite beer, and text her throughout the day about how much I'm thinking of her, love her, etc.

Things that don't seem to work:
Going out to eat. We both usually overeat, feel awful, and then complain about how much it cost afterwards. On the flip side, we both LOVE going out to eat and trying new things/places so maybe that can be incorporated somehow. She's also against couple's therapy.
posted by Autumn to Human Relations (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Since you mention enjoying activities similar to what is advocated in the game Bliss,I would highly recommend checking out a book by John Gottman. Some of them actually list conversations to have to increase intimacy and sound similar to the things that you list from the game.

Also, rather than us suggesting random acts,you may want to find out how your parnter best communicates and considers acts of love.For some it is an action, for others it is a gift.This PDF summarizes it (random google for love language and Gottman pulled that up), but I'd find out your partner's preference and work from there.

Also,your last example of what you enjoy may be the novelty. So perhaps not going out to eat, but doing something novel together-- exploring a new place, trying a new activity. There are some studies on novelty seekers,not going to throw it in...because not enough info here to know if it applies to both of you.Good luck.
posted by Wolfster at 7:16 PM on June 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

The last line of your question trumped my original advice.

Are you in therapy? The word suicidal has me a bit worried.

To actually answer your question, I suggest non-sexual massage at bedtime. My husband and I find that it helps smooth over the stressful times and help us bond a little bit. You might find it sweet to spend a few minutes at bedtime caring/being cared for.
posted by Specklet at 7:20 PM on June 28, 2012

I suggest lots of generous sex. That might not be your personalities, IDK, but nothing creates passion like sexy sex orgasms when you're not expected to reciprocate.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:21 PM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I bought this book, Back to Us, when my last relationship was on the rocks, and although we didn't stay together and I returned the book for a refund, I did like what I saw in there. It sounds a bit like the Bliss game. It's a collaborative journal with suggestions for conversations that'll bring you closer, some light homework to get you thinking about the relationship, and some silly, lighter stuff too.
posted by Pomo at 8:11 PM on June 28, 2012

If you love going out to eat but hate the fat feeling and the expense, consider having a salad for dinner at home and then going out just for dessert, and always trying something new.

Massage at bedtime is lovely if you're into it. Reading to each other is also nice if you're not going to be having sex that night.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:41 PM on June 28, 2012

If you want to have adventures on a budget, you could try subscribing to Living Social or Groupon. It's nice to do stuff like yoga, local touristy things, etc., and it's less stressful when you got a deal.

Part of staying in love is building memories together, because they tide you over when the going gets rough. I find having adventure-some memories really helpful in doing that.
posted by spunweb at 9:02 PM on June 28, 2012

I second the idea of generous sex. It can smooth over a lot of problems in a relationship: you'd be surprised.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2012

Instead of going out to eat, find a recipe that's a bit unusual and cook together! You get a lot more quality time than you would in a restaurant, and it's also cheaper and healthier. It can still be a special evening if you pick a meal to cook that's something you don't normally eat and go all out with dimmed lighting, romantic music, a nice bottle of wine, etc. Make sure you split the cooking duties, and agree beforehand to leave the dishes for the next day.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:53 PM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

For god's sake, get a cleaner to come in at least once a week.
posted by zia at 10:32 PM on June 28, 2012

You don't detail how the chores are divided, but this crap will seriously and continually compromise your happiness until you find an arrangement you both think is fair. Seconding the cleaner if you can afford it, your partner can then do finishing touches if her standards aren't met.

If you can't afford a cleaner, mr.likeso's old eureka might help: person with greater amount of free time = main cleaner, modified by agreed-upon cleanliness standards, with the rider that both parties are always required to clean up after their own asses. It cuts the crap; we have switched responsibilities several times over the years with relatively few hassles.

In your case, you work 12 more hours than your SO + SO is also the one with higher cleanliness standards = SO does most/more of the household chores. You clean up your own messes. Income differential is not a factor. (Nor is gender, though in your case, moot.)
posted by likeso at 3:47 AM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

When the misery outweighs the joy, it's time to end the relationship.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:04 AM on June 29, 2012

Set aside time in both your schedules during which you two will do nothing but be nice to each other and enjoy each others' company and not worry about the dishes or who was grumpy or why for a while. This can be sex or conversation or backrubs or going for a walk together or whatever, it can be daily or weekly or monthly, that's up to you guys; the point is that it's a commitment you each make and can look forward to and enjoy when it happens.

Also set aside a regular time in your schedules to talk about whatever little things have been bothering you -- the stuff that normally turns into a fight because you're angry in the moment and the stuff that you just don't say out loud because it sounds petty or because you don't want it to turn into a fight -- and discuss it while you're not emotional and in the heat of the moment and listen and understand each other better and work out compromises before the unsaid stuff simmers into resentment. And as a bonus often by the time the scheduled time comes around you'll have forgotten what it was, which means it wasn't worth fighting about in the first place. (The secret about couples therapy is that this is all that it is; if you both make the effort to be constructive and not cruel you don't actually need the therapist to referee.)

Don't schedule these times adjacent to one another.
posted by ook at 6:54 AM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You attribute alot of your conflict to medication changes / her coming out to her family, but you're not considering the fact that you and your SO just moved in together?

I've found in my life that great friendships can be ruined by cohabitation, and cohabitation between polar opposites can result in great friendships. Theres tons of middle ground in between, but it is hard to move in together with someone close to you because both of you "think" you know the other person and have expectations of them. But you don't truly know the details of someone until you cohabitate, and I think you're high expectations (for each other) and inability to adapt / work it out calmly is causing alot of these issues.

Living apart from your SO is sort of a security blanket in my mind, and moving in with an SO would be a huge life adjustment for me, just to not have someplace to escape to when I need time to myself. It adds stress, sounds like you two are stressin hard and takin it out on each other. Those are large workloads too, and I totally understand what you mean about coming home from work and just wanting to relax, not jump into cleaning duties.
posted by el_yucateco at 7:10 AM on June 29, 2012

Response by poster: We managed to rekindle things for a few months with the help of the "Love Languages" book, but as of right now things are still on the rocks.
posted by Autumn at 1:46 PM on January 2, 2013

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