We’ve all heard the line, probably multiple times. Whether it comes from popular television shows, movies, or from friends, the phrase “We’ve fallen out of love” has become a common excuse for many people to leave significant and long-term relationships. In many cases, this same phrase is uttered as the reason to leave a marriage and children behind. As relationship experts, we have dedicated years of research to understand exactly why some people believe they no longer love the person they once thought was their one and only. Today’s blog is the first in a series of posts exploring why some couples fall out of love and how to avoid this in your own relationships.
1. Different Interests and Hobbies.
This issue is extremely common in many romantic couples. Those little differences that appeared when you first dated didn’t seem like a big deal. Who cares that he plays video games and I don’t? Who cares if she loves just sitting on the couch reading a book when I haven’t picked one up since high school? Whatever these differences might be, they often seem inconsequential early in a relationship when we still have “butterflies” in our stomach every time we see our partner. But later on, whether it’s once we move in together or get married, these differences start to wear on us.
Maybe we just assumed our partner would eventually understand the joy that comes from a rousing game of Risk or maybe we thought we would stop caring that our partner didn’t love and memorize every episode of Gilmore Girls. What often happens, though, is the opposite–these differences start to annoy us. We start to wonder why our partner doesn’t care enough about us to actually engage in activities we enjoy. Why don’t they put in more effort? Eventually, these feelings can lead to frustration, resentment, and anger. So how do you avoid this? Here are three simple steps to making sure different interests/likes don’t doom your relationship.
Remember, it’s not you, it’s the activity.
When our partners fail to find ultimate joy in the activities we love, we often take this as a personal rejection. We ask ourselves “if they love me, wouldn’t they try harder to enjoy this?” The reality if often much simpler: for your partner, this activity simply isn’t enjoyable and often has nothing to do with how they feel about you. However, if you pester or insist your partner participate or fall in love with the activity, you might find it does becomes about you quickly, only in a negative way.
Focus on your partner
Like so many things in relationships, often the best option is to focus on what you can do for your partner. While it may be easy to focus on the things you love but your partner doesn’t, try showing interest in something you traditionally don’t enjoy but your partner does. This doesn’t mean you need to fake enthusiasm or love for the activity; simply be willing to sacrifice a little time and energy to spend time with your partner doing something they love. If you focus on what you can do, you may quickly find your partner following your example.
At the end of the day, almost every couple will have activities, hobbies, or interests they simply disagree on. Healthy couples accept these differences and do not focus on changing their partner. Negotiate and communicate with each other so that you can both enjoy things the other doesn’t. That may mean a boys/girls night out, or maybe it means you need to put up with a Downton Abbey marathon every once and a while. Whatever it is, never let little differences turn into big relationship barriers.
If you follow these 3 simple steps, you can make sure that differences in interests don’t lead to the levels of resentment that make some people feel they are “out of love.” If you’re worried differences have impacted your relationship in a negative way, take RELATE and let us help you assess your relationship health.