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Case Study: How One Couple Avoided Drifting Apart

Tim and Dan are a supercouple, at least their friends think so. 

When they first met, they had dreams of owning a ranch in Montana. Tim, from rural Illinois, always loved the satisfaction of seeing his farm thrive. Dan had grown up with horses and rodeos outside of Colorado Springs. They were a perfect match.

Now on the ranch in Montana, they had created a vacation getaway for gay and lesbian couples. The "city folk" loved it. Tim was also a great cook, and everyone loved waking up to bacon, oatmeal, and biscuits and gravy every morning. Dan would create activities for the couples to do during the day. Mondays the guests would learn to chop wood. Wednesday through Friday everyone took the horses on a long trek into the hills. Tim and Dan were a great team, and had created something larger than either one could accomplish individually.

After ten years together, though, the tone had changed. They weren't fighting; they weren't even bickering. They weren't happy, though.

They weren't a team anymore.

So what's happening here? People who are conflict-avoident tend to also be very strong, independent people. When two conflict-avoiders get together in a relationship, at their best they conquer the highest mountains. They set roles, and do not squabble about their part of the job. They become like two people on the same team, but playing different positions.

At their worst, though, they drift apart. Their sex life is the first to go, and usually takes some conscious work to revive. They lack the ability to use conflict to become close again, so instead no one makes any changes. The status quo marches on, until they potentially drift apart.

What's the answer for Dan and Tim, or for you if I've just described your relationship?

  1. Remember that at your strongest, you can achieve things as a couple that could not happen as individuals.

  2. Figure out a project that ignites your excitement about life again. Learn a language together? You'll accomplish it faster than most people. Plan for a six month trip to Europe? You two can do it so long as you have each other.

This case is very similar to a recent situation we saw in our gay couples counseling clinic in San Jose. That couple solved it the very same way you see above. Let us know if we can help your situation. Until then, we wish you only relationship success and happiness.

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