Rebuilding a lost connection when you feel you’re down in the valley all alone and your partner is across the wide and empty chasm.
Loneliness doesn’t always mean you are alone. If you’re struggling with a feeling of disconnection from your partner, you can be sitting in the same room with them and still feel utterly and completely alone. Your partner seems to be so far removed from you emotionally, that you may feel you’ll never be able to connect with them again, even though you can physically reach out and literally touch them. It can feel like you’re each on opposite sides of a vast wide valley and you’re uncertain and scared to try to get across to where they are. Building a bridge of connection can seem like an impossible task. There are a great many factors that are at play here; both for you, for your partner and for your marriage. These all need to be addressed in time, but the most important thing for you to do is to take the first step.
Anger, pride, stubbornness, or emotional distress can keep us from wanting to be the one to reach out. Especially if there’s been a betrayal of trust; an affair or some other kind of relationship injury. You may be waiting for your partner to make a concession, to apologize, to begin to make amends and it’s just not happening. All that is happening is that the chasm between you is growing wider and deeper, and you feel like you’re down in the valley all alone. At this point, the waiting has become so painful that you’re motivated to do what you can to fix it.
One person cannot fix a problem that two people have created. Both of you have to be actively involved in rebuilding your emotional connection, but how do you get your partner to see that it’s time to start building? Emotional distance can seem farther than any distant land, but as with every journey, crossing that dry desert of emotional distance begins with taking one single step.
You have to reach out to your partner, where he or she is in this moment, and tell them how truly alone you are feeling. You need to do it without blame, without accusations, without malice. Simply be vulnerable and let your partner know how you are feeling and that you are missing the closeness you had; you’re missing your best friend. You’re missing your other half. Baring your soul will not be easy but it will be the foundation that you lay, that will allow you to begin building that bridge.
This can be a terrifying proposition. What if they reject you? What if you meet a cold reception? What will you do then? Your desire for the emotional connection with your partner has to be greater than your fear of rejection. If you are feeling lonely and missing your connection with your partner, chances are, they are feeling the same loss. They may not be in the same place you are as far as the urgency of making the change, but they will certainly understand how you are feeling. You cannot go on in a “Cold War” or living like roommates indefinitely. As they say, “Something’s gotta give”. If you are willing to lay your heart out on the line and fight for your relationship, building a bridge of connection may be possible.
If you both put in the work to fix what caused the issues in the first place,( and often it takes the support and assistance of a professional therapist to accomplish this), you can begin building that bridge together, each from your own side of the valley and meet somewhere in the middle.
Going forward together, you can recognize what the warning signs are of getting back into a negative cycle with your partner.
Honestly, there’s no reason that even people who’ve been in long-term marriages or relationships should ever “grow apart”. It’s not something that has to happen. You can each make an effort every day to maintain that feeling of closeness, to let your partner know you’re there for them and that you care about them. Building a bridge of connection will allow you to reach across and touch one another every single day and never lose that feeling that you are with the person you’re meant to be with, that loves you for who you are. There never needs to be distance between you ever again.
We have a blueprint, a roadmap to connection. It’s about understanding each partner’s attachment needs. What do they need to feel loved and important? What do you need? This roadmap allows us to access the path to the bridge of connection. As a therapist, this is what keeps me excited about helping couples reconnect. Teaching them to use that attachment language and look for ways to help their partners feel loved and important; giving them the building blocks that can be the foundation for the rest of their lives together.
Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.
His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart’s Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. He lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.