Not looking at each other.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. When it comes to unhappiness in a relationship, it’s often not some big, giant, huge, gaping issue, but lots of small issues that niggle away at you. Australian couples are drifting away from each other. They often don’t realise how far they’ve gone until it’s too late and the distance seems too big to reach across.
Maybe your both so distracted by your smart phones that you forget to even look at each other anymore. I know my husband and I are guilty of just that. Sometimes we even text each other from different rooms in our house.
Modern relationships gone crazy.
Phone distraction in modern relationships seems to be a growing issue, with one in six couples in the UK admitting to spending more time on their smart phones than with each other. Bausch + Lomb Ultra, a contact lens company that conducted the survey, say this can lead to relationship stress, with couples on their honeymoons even confessing to constantly checking in on their smart phones.
I know the same trend can be applied in Australia. As the report, called The Psychology of Digital Interaction, explains: "Most of us simply couldn't do without them [our smartphones] for keeping in contact with friends and family, work colleagues, shopping, gaming and knowing what's going on in the world."
But what about that one person who is meant to mean more to us than all of that?
Relationship expert and lecturer at Curtin University, Amanda Lambros, has been a relationship counsellor for 15 years and she says that, when it comes to problems in relationships, a lack of communication is often at the heart of it all.
"When you first meet someone you obviously pull out all the stops to make sure you stay with that person," she told ABC News. "But once you are with that person, you think the hard part is over and you become complacent."
She says couples simply stop talking, overwhelmed with life and work. It's something my husband and I are experiencing now.
Yes we love each other. Sure we want to be together forever. But we miss each other. We miss us.
We've taken to constantly texting each other in order to remind us that we are still here. It's not an ideal solution but it works for now, amidst demanding careers and children and the normal stresses of modern life.
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It can be shocking to realise that you've only had a handful of conversations with your partner in a week and most of them have been about bills that are due, groceries you need to buy, or things that the kids need.
Lambros says it's not just long-term relationships that are suffering. She says it takes just two years for most couples to become complacent. "Unless people actively make an effort to continue to pay attention to one other, this was the point at which a relationship can start to falter."
By the time couples come to her for help, it's often too late. "Usually I am the last-ditch effort to save the relationship." (No wonder couples counsellors receive such a bad wrap.) I remember my husband commenting that he can't think of one couple that is still together, after starting relationship counselling.
Lambros says her role is usually as a sounding-board, to remind couples of all the things they used to do to make each other happy.
I used to buy my husband little gifts, and leave them on his desk at work. I can't remember the last time I did that.
I remember my husband would surprise me with nights out and just let me know where and when, without a conversation about what I'd like to do.
I loved not having to think about it, to just be whisked away. Once again, I can't remember the last time we did that.
Calling each other in the middle of the day just to say "hi", holding hands as we passed each other in the hallway, buying each other's favourite flavour of ice-cream instead of our own.
Couples should seek help earlier in the relationship, Lambros says. That they should keep reminding themselves of the value of the relationship.
It's so easy to be so overwhelmed with all the things you have to get done in a day. But it pays to think more of how you want to end your day, and the person you want to end it with. It doesn't have to be anything amazing or elaborate. Just a small gesture, a few minutes of conversation, eye-contact, kissing, leaving each other little gifts.
It's as simple as including something that feeds the relationship into each and every day. As you think about all the things you need to do, you leave some time for the relationship that you want to make last forever.
And put down your bloody phones.
If you feel you need help getting your relationship back on track contact Amanda Lambros by visiting her website amandalambros.com.