FINDING love is a magical experience, with many people reaching that blissful place on cloud nine where they feel inseparable. But despite the contentment of a couple being in a relationship, certain forces eventually intervene — whether it be children, disappointments, monotony, or betrayal — causing both partners to plummet to Earth.
And while many couples believe they can best serve their significant others by setting them free, psychotherapist Kevin Bailey says that it's possible for couples to fall in love again, but they must be ready to commit to understanding the premise of their love in order to build on it.
“Do an evaluation of what you mean when you say you were in love but that you have fallen out of love. The definition of love is important. Based on research, love has three components — passion, intimacy and commitment. For the relationship to be sustainable, you must have these three elements at play; but when any or all of these are affected, that is when we have a breakdown in the relationship,” Bailey advised.
The following issues must be examined:
Is the guilty party genuinely remorseful?
Whether it was extramarital affairs or abuse in different forms, is the culprit truly remorseful? Has there been a sincere admission of guilt? Has the person sought forgiveness and is willing to do whatever it takes to make their partner feel treasured, loved and nurtured?
Is there a collaborative effort?
Both partners should acknowledge the problem, establish the root cause, and collaborate to rebuild the relationship together. So they will examine what they have learnt, and why the relationship broke down in the first place. This is very important; otherwise the relationship will continue to break down despite every effort to fix it. Although this process can be painful, Bailey stressed the importance of being open, truthful and non-judgemental.
Each party has a duty to the relationship
Even the person who was hurt has a duty to their partner and to the health of the relationship. So the emotional needs on either side must be considered. In many relationships, even the victim may have contributed to the breakdown. And while no blame should be cast on that partner, it is important to evaluate the relationship objectively if reconciliation is to take place. So while you may not have started the argument, your reaction may have escalated it and caused the issue to be blown out of proportion. Ask yourself: Did you meet your partner's needs — whether they were sexual, for respect and admiration, being responsible, or ensuring that he/she felt safe?
Seek outside help
Sometimes as the injured party or the one desperately trying to win back your partner's love, it can be difficult to remain objective. With that said, one way to address this problem is to seek the support of a trusted friend that you both agree on. It could be another couple that you respect who have managed to maintain a happy, healthy relationship and who may have had similar struggles but were able to overcome them.
Do things you did when you first fell in love
When you were in love and you felt cherished, secure and empowered, recall what you were doing at the time and start doing those things again. Celebrate each other, start bonding again, and whether it's just a simple movie at home or a vacation (if you can afford it), start dating again. These will re-create an atmosphere for love.
Each person must evaluate how they feel about themselves. Unless you love yourself, the break in the relationship can affect the way you view yourself. Especially if a third party was the reason for the breakdown, it's easy to question your worth. But you should know that you have to forgive yourself for past mistakes even when other people can't forgive you.
Be careful what you are depending on your partner for
Are you depending on your partner for something they can't deliver, whether it may be because of their personality type, their own choices, or are they simply incapable of giving something to you? Ask yourself if you are flogging a dead horse, because some people are just incapable of giving. You will both be frustrated if you continue to expect the same things, and you must be able to reach a compromise.
Bailey notes that certain factors may make it difficult for some couples to rebound after falling out of love — one being physical or sexual abuse. In situations like these, trust — a fundamental characteristic of every relationship — has been broken, and this can be difficult or impossible to repair. Forgiveness without reconciliation is sometimes inevitable for the following reasons: (a) how serious and deep the pain is, and (b) the fact that some people are unwilling to change, and you cannot hold yourself responsible for them.