February 25, 2021


Complacency can be the death of a relationship because it creates emotional distance between the two of you.

Are you in a complacent relationship? Complacency can be the death of a relationship because it creates emotional distance between the two of you.   If the distance becomes too great, there may be no way that you are both willing to reconnect.  It’s time to act now if your relationship is showing signs of complacency.

In the previous blog, “Indicators of Complacency in a Relationship,” we answered this question by looking at some of the leading indicators ofLove Recon OVERCOMING COMPLACENCY IN A RELATIONSHIP body image complacency.  The signs of complacency that we looked at were:

  • Boredom and restlessness
  • Tearing down instead of building up
  • Focusing elsewhere
  • Disengaging and emotionally distancing
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of vision for a future together
  • Appearance suffers -dressing up for friends but not each other
  • Sex – non-existent or only a physical act
  • Communication breakdown
  • Wishful thinking – fantasizing about a different life or partner

For more on these signs, please refer to the previously mentioned blog.  In this blog, we will address some ideas to help you and your partner avoid or overcome complacency.

First, kick your own butt! It has to start with you, the only person that you have control over. Stop settling or complaining and take action!  In all of the suggestions below, make sure that you are doing all you can to personally overcome complacency. Think about it:  Are you being lazy or selfish? Would you want to go on a date with you? Does your partner know how much they mean to you by your words and actions?

 10 Ways to Overcome Complacency in a Relationship

  1. Restore communication. Start talking about more than just the household chores, kids, or the weather.  Sharing surface clichés is not sharing at all, really. Sharing facts is sharing what you Sharing opinions is sharing what you think.  Sharing emotions is sharing what you feel. Sharing what you need is sharing yourself.  Begin by sharing facts and then progress to sharing opinions.  When it is safe enough, share your feelings.  The goal is to be able to share your needs and be vulnerable with your partner, but it can take time to achieve this level of communication. Be patient, and as long as you are making progress, you will be combatting complacency.
  1. Stay in touch. Every day take the time to touch base and talk with your partner. Make it in-person and not just through texts, emails, or social media.  Don’t just brag about your spouse on their birthday on Facebook.  Brag about them to their face!  Even if you only share the highs and lows of the day, it is worth taking the time to do it.
  1. Become the expert on your partner. Don’t assume that you know all about your partner. Ask them questions.  What are they struggling with right now?  What are their current personal goals?  What is their favorite sports team, their favorite drink, the thing that annoys them the most?  No one should know them better than you do.  It also involves noticing the little things about them as well.  It takes effort and the changing of your focus to do this, but it is worth it!
  1. Imagine your world without your partner. Practice “negative visualization.”  What would your life be like if your partner was no longer in it?  What would you miss the most about them?  When you realize all that they mean to you and bring to your life, it may evoke feelings of gratitude and appreciation.  Instead of wanting more, you realize what you already have with them.
  2. Express appreciation to your partner. In the financial world, if something “appreciates, “it increases in value.  When you appreciate your partner, their worth to you grows, and you begin to realize how valuable they already are. Even if they don’t always do something well, appreciating their efforts will make them want to try harder and do more. You will have even more to be grateful for!
  1. Try new things together. Do something that takes you both out of your comfort zones – something that stretches you a bit.  It could be a cooking class, dance instruction, yoga, or sky diving, to name a few.  The key is that you are both experiencing this for the first time.  The experience will tether you even closer together.
  1. Dream and set goals. Everyone needs something to look forward to, and this is true of relationships as well.  First, each of you set some personal goals and share them with your partner so that they will know how to support and encourage you.  Then set some goals that you both want to achieve together.  Think about 1-, 3- and 5-year goals.  These will keep you on track and give you accomplishments to celebrate.
  1. Initiate date night. This means that you will have to make your relationship a priority at least once a week. You will most likely need to draw boundaries to protect this time.  Take turns planning the dates.  The internet is full of suggestions and ideas for date nights, and they don’t have to cost a lot if anything.
  1. Make unexpected gestures. Put their favorite candy on their bedside. Bring them coffee in bed in the morning. Buy tickets to a game or a concert.  Write a note telling them what you appreciate about them.  The list of things that you could do is endless.  Paying attention and becoming an expert on your partner will provide you with plenty of ideas to surprise and delight them. Even the small gestures say, “ I am thinking of you.” 
  1. Touch affectionately. Try some spontaneous intimacy. Establish the practice of 10 Second Hugs or Ten Second Kisses. The rules are that either of you can call for a 10-second hug or a 10-second kiss at any time.  This is not about sex.  If there is the expectation of sex with each 10-second hug or kiss, this won’t work. Other expressions of affection like snuggling on the couch, spooning in bed, or holding hands on a walk also fill the need for affectionate touch in a relationship.

You can overcome complacency and the distance that it may have created in your relationship.  As was pointed out earlier, it has to begin with you individually.  You may have to take the first step back toward your partner to bring life back into your relationship. The hope is that your spouse, who could be just as dissatisfied as you are, will begin to take steps toward you as well.

Love Recon seminars and Recon Coaching provide great tools in overcoming complacency and keeping your relationship fresh. Call us!

About the author 

Cliff Poe

Cliff Poe is Founder and Lead Coach for Recon Coaching. He and his wife, Jeani, are Master Coaches and their passion is to help individuals and couples form healthy, lasting and satisfying relationships. Cliff has a M.Div. in pastoral counseling and ministry. He enjoys writing and coaching as well as his family which includes 2 adult kids and their spouses, 6 grandchildren and a fur family composed of a Golden Retriever and a Mackerel Tabby.

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