All couples have times when partners feel so close that it seems God must have smiled while pairing them. Their love and devotion are beyond question. All couples also have times when everything seems so awful that partners say to themselves “Why do I stay with this person? I could do so much better!” Partners need to realize that it is normal to feel both ways many times during the course of being together. It helps if both people take responsibility for not allowing things to get stuck or frozen in one place, even the good places. I believe that healthy relationships need to flow back and forth. If you’re stuck in one of those wonderful spots, difficult issues won’t be addressed and destructive pressure will build. If you’re stuck in a rough spot, disrespect and contempt will take over and wither the love, deteriorating that sense of being special to each other.
I think of this back and forth rubber band action as being like Swing Dancing where there is a dynamic tension that allows partners to flow apart from each other and then snap back using the same dynamic tension. I counsel couples to keep the distant periods short., meaning a few minutes to 48 hours. I also tell them not to worry so much about working through the “issues,” which might take decades. Issues are important, but relationships stay alive because of small loving behaviors throughout the day, like spooning in bed and saying things like “thank you,” and “I’m wrong, you’re right.” These “loving behaviors” keep the relationship flowing.
I remember a time very early in our marriage when Christine and I got mad at each other on a beach. We stomped off in opposite directions (stretch) but eventually turned around and met near where we had parted. I said, “Let’s talk.” She said F*** You, so we passed each other and walked another mile or two (stretch). Eventually we met again in the middle and decided to talk through our differences and return to closer more loving behaviors.