How to Get the Magic Back in Your Relationship
Like all things, relationships go in cycles.
We asked Jenny Glick, a licensed marriage and family therapist, relationship expert and director of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek in Denver, Colo., her perspective on how to keep relationships alive and exciting.
Question : In your experience, what most interferes with keeping a relationship fresh and vibrant?
Jenny Glick : Part of what is so intoxicating in the early stages of relationship is having someone lean in and be curious about us. When that curiosity and investment begin to fade – or even disappears completely – the relationship starts to feel flat.
Tension and quiet resentment take over, while physical desire begins to wane. We, as individuals, are constantly changing; if we keep that in mind, while continuing to stay curious and invested in our partner, our relationship will feel more alive.
Question : Do you feel it’s possible to rekindle the magic once it has been lost?
Jenny Glick : We often experience “magic” as desire, anticipation, excitement and longing. This is typical when something is new, dangerous and different. Long-term relationships, by definition, are predictable, stable and routine – the very things that offset those feelings of “magic.” I don’t believe we lose magic; relationships change, shift and grow.
They feel different because they’re changing, just as we do as individuals. Couples can consciously create excitement and anticipation in their relationships through play, travel, adventures and intimacy.
Question : When working with couples, what are some of your strategies for helping them rekindle what they feel is missing?
Jenny Glick : I tend not to use the word “magic” because it makes things sound, well, magical. The way we talk about relationships – “falling in love” or “rekindling magic” – lends a quality to relationships that is somewhat unconscious.
Very often I hear, “I have fallen out of love with my partner.” That may be true, but how does one recapture a relationship that we think of as having simply happened, without effort? The first step is to do the work yourself; don’t wait or put it on your partner.
Question : What sort of role does communication play in the lost-magic dynamic?
Jenny Glick : Ninety percent of those who call me say, “My partner and I cannot communicate.” When we get stuck repeatedly having the same disagreement with our partner we are hitting a developmental ceiling.
That’s a cue to learn new and different skills to “level up” our relationship. If we do not have a therapist or coach to help us, we often revert back to using our old tools, like blame, shame, guilt, stonewalling, etc. These don’t serve our relationship, nor do they help us get what we want.
Learning to level up our communication – having the courage to be vulnerable and accountable – shifts that communication immediately.
Question : How do you help couples re-engage?
Jenny Glick : I do a lot of work with couples looking at what they want in their relationship and what they’re doing to get it. Very often what people want is for their partner to change.
One of the beautiful things about being a therapist is having the opportunity to help people see parts of themselves that they might otherwise miss; those parts are often the very things getting in the way of creating the relationship they desire in the first place.
I help people learn how to do their own work first, stay connected to their own sense of self and practice not taking things personally. That goes a long way toward self-responsibility and shifting the relationship satisfaction.
Question : Are there any specific exercises or bits of homework you assign?
Jenny Glick : Yes, I have a number of things that I do with couples, depending on their current concerns. One of the first activities is a tool to help them gauge how they share parts of themselves with their partner, as well as how they express curiosity about their partner.
This is often a very revealing exercise because clients quickly see the work needed to help them work out the potentially negative dynamic they’ve created.
Question : How do you respond when there is an imbalance in the commitment to work at reigniting the spark?
Jenny Glick : My perspective is that relationships are not a 50/50 endeavor, but more 100/100. If you’re not feeling like you have the relationship that you want, it’s unfair to ask your partner to put in 100 percent until you’re doing the same.
Start with yourself and you will see the positive changes you desire begin to happen.
About Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT
Jenny Glick, a licensed marriage and family therapist and relationship expert, holds a Master of Arts degree in Women’s Studies and a Master of Science degree in Counseling, Marriage, Family and Child Therapy. She is owner of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek in Denver, Colo.
Glick employs an active and dynamic approach to her work with clients, offering in-office sessions, walk-in-the-park therapy and online consultation all aimed at supporting her clients in fully achieving their personal and relationship goals.