Stuck in a rut? On the verge of splitting up? Experts say there is a way to revive your relationship — but it’s drastic
Once you loved everything about him, from the way he ran a hand through his hair to that little noise he made when he ate.
Now when he dares to sniff too loudly or picks his nose when he thinks no one is looking, you could cheerfully throttle him.
In just a few years everything about your partner has gone from attractive to plain annoying. But why?
Remember the saying familiarity breeds contempt?
If you spend a lot of time with your partner, the very things that made you fall for him can soon drive you mad.
But how can you tell if it’s the habit you can’t stand or the person?
Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh has a bold suggestion.
He says that taking a break from your other half — however brief — is a positive move that can help you learn to appreciate them again.
In fact he believes healthy relationships are based on spending time apart occasionally.
He says: ‘Most relationships start in the phase where everything the other person does is endearing, but then moves on to a phase where little things can irritate both partners.
‘It can be anything from the way the person mumbles or chews or things like leaving the cap off the toothpaste.
‘But the key thing to ask yourself is this — is it the habits that annoy you or the person?’
Gurpreet says that far from meaning there’s something wrong, most healthy relationships are based on spending some time apart.
‘You might be a wife or a husband, but that is just one facet of your personality,’ he says. ‘Spending time alone and as part of a couple is an important part of realigning yourself, and it is healthy.’
Gurpreet says that if you do decide to have a break from your partner, you need to establish rules you both agree on.
He says: ‘Only you can decide how long the break should be — it could be an hour or it could be a year. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time away, nor does it need to cost a lot of money. It can be a weekend away or it can be a walk in the park or a coffee with a friend.’
By setting the rules and terms of the break, you ensure that you both know what is expected. The danger is if one person thinks that anything goes during the break — such as flirting or even seeing other people — and the other person doesn’t.
Time away from your other half can help you not only feel like yourself again, it can help you come back to the relationship more in love than ever. But Gurpreet does have a word of warning.
If you’re having lots of breaks, if one person desires more breaks than the other, or if you are finding you no longer enjoy being near your partner at all, it’s time to rethink your relationship.
He says: ‘If you still love your partner but find them annoying when they do certain things in certain ways, it is the habit that is annoying, not the person.
‘But if you find that you can’t even tolerate sitting next to them or being in the same room, that is not the habit but a sign that perhaps you’re in a toxic relationship.’
Edited by Julie Cook
7 benefits of a relationship break
It gives you space You both need space to work out whether you’re happier together or apart.
You can reset your priorities Find out what you want from life.
You’ll learn if you are compatible Think about all the things you have in common. Do you agree or disagree on similar things, are you sexually attracted to each other, is there still chemistry between you?
It allows you to ask difficult questions Is it love, or are you more like friends now?
You have time to miss each other Remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It can help rekindle the spark Both time and distance can refuel your longing for each other.
It can save your relationship Time apart can make you realise you’ve been neglecting your other half and taking them for granted.