- Published: Saturday, 11 February 2017 21:54
- Written by W.M. Carpenter III, Ph.D.
“It’s easy to drift. In fact, drifting is almost universal in marriage. The bloom of the courtship and the honeymoon passion are inevitably challenged as marriage is affected by the reality of living in today’s time-starved world. The issue often becomes not one of how to avoid drifting, but how to avoid being stuck in and derailed by it.”
The preceding is a quote from a course text published by the American Association of Christian Counselors. “Drifting” sounds so straight forward, but how do we recognize it, what is it really, and how do we fix it? Counselors define drifting as “A gradual, subtle, often unintentional severing of emotional ties in a relationship.” When coupled with the knowledge of your weekly schedule and daily life, that definition in and of itself, is enough to strike fear into many couples, because you can see how likely it is to take place. What’s more is a drifting relationship is a failing relationship.
Though drifting is only one form of relationship failure, there is none more dangerous. This is due to its subtle nature. It slowly and stealthily erodes the foundation of the relationship leaving unsuspecting couples prone to crises. What makes it even more dangerous is that it is often not easy to detect because it looks so good both internally and externally.
So how does a couple protect their relationship from failure due to drifting? In working with couples in my practice, I’ve found the answer to be in the the research of Dr. John Gottman when he says, “Small things often.” You see, while the diamond ring, the new car, and the lavish vacations are nice, they’re not the true building blocks of the relationship. It’s little things throughout the day, every day that builds “The Emotional Bank Account,” something that will be discussed further in upcoming articles in this series. It’s filling the car up with gas because you knew it was going to be raining in the morning when your spouse left work. It’s turning off the TV and going for ice cream, folding the clothes, or a hundred other little things that let your partner know you care.
In the Sound Relationship House model that is the result of decades of clinical studies on relationships, the first three levels are all about building, maintaining, or in many cases rebuilding the friendship. All levels of the SRH model are important to protect from drifting, but those first three levels are key. In upcoming articles I’ll be discussing the importance of “Love Maps,” “Sharing Fondness & Admiration,” and one of the biggest of them all, “Turning Towards.” It’s such a seemingly tiny moment of your time, but has major implications for in how your relationship survives.
Much more is to come, so keep checking back, but in the meantime, remember the mantra, “Small things often,” and keep it fresh in your mind.
If your relationship is drifting, and you need help getting things back on track, call me at 469-225-9040 or contact me online for a free consultation.