When it’s time to come see me for couples therapy you may be at an impasse with your partner. You’re not growing together, moving forward in life, you may not even be speaking to one another, and if you are, it may only be in conflict, arguments or fighting. You may feel isolated, angry, sad or alone.
You’ve come to the point where you’re realizing that you and your partner have lost your connection. You just don’t feel close anymore. You are wondering where all the love went. Why you can hardly stand to look at your partner and the emotions you feel when you’re together are just about as far away from warm, fuzzy and loving as you can possibly get.
Part of you wants to walk away, but another part of you wants to reach out and try to cross this gap between the two of you. You fear you may not be able to get through to your partner and wonder if it’s worth the possibility of rejection. What if your partner doesn’t want to try? What if he/she rejects you? Is there a way to re-establish your connection once you’ve lost it?
Yes, and this is how:
- Decide that you and your partner are going to commit to repairing your relationship NO MATTER WHAT that looks like – Repair and healing takes 100% effort and commitment. You really have to be living in that mode of determination every day, through every interaction you and your partner are having.
- Determine your issues and problems and plan to work together to resolve them – You and your partner need to be authentic and vulnerable about what has gone wrong in your relationship and work on a series of steps and goals to repair these issues together. Make sure you also tell them what’s gone right and be positive about that. Focus on moving forward together.
- Talk about feelings without placing blame, pointing fingers or bringing up the past – This can be difficult if you’re not having good communication. It’s imperative that both of you be willing to share your feelings with one another without anger or blame.
- Get a third party (a counselor who specializes in an attachment based model) involved – A licensed couples therapist who specializes in this can help to mediate and guide your interactions and put you on the path to healing. They can show you the roadmap to connection.
- Check in with each other daily – Some days will be better than others. The point is not to pull away, isolate yourself or leave the situation. It can be hard to deal with, but you must go through this in order to get to the loving connection on the other side of your pain.
- Have a plan and workable achievable goals – These problems you’ve been experiencing may seem like they are insurmountable. You and your partner need to work on a series of small goals. Maybe just having a civil conversation is a start. You have to start somewhere. Often it feels like we have hundreds of problems, but for most couples, in reality, it’s really just a few. With focus and commitment, these problems can be solved when the two of you work together as a team.
- Be authentic be vulnerable (you have to go all in) – When you’re feeling hurt and alone, it’s hard to open yourself up to your partner to risk being hurt or rejected. This is one of the most important aspects of re-establishing your lost connection. You have to show your partner that you’re willing to risk everything to stay in the relationship and heal the hurting. Their pain is also equally important.
- Don’t think you’re going to fix your partner, instead concentrate on fixing you. – This is a common mistake that people make. They think , “If only he/she would change, things would be better.” The truth is, you cannot change your partner. You are only in control of yourself. Change those things in you that you wish you could change in your partner, and see the impact it will make. Shifting how you react to the issues can cause a major change in how each of you views your relationship.
- Make your relationship a priority – In everything you do and say you must consider how your partner will feel about or react to your decision. Your relationship has to be the #1 priority in your life if you want to re-establish a loving connection and have a relationship that will last. Communicate this to your partner directly in words and in actions. Consistency of both of these is critical to successfully connecting.
- Show love, kindness, gratitude and care EVERY DAY – It’s really a series of little things you do and say, that make the most difference to your relationship in the short and long term. Be nice to each other. It seems like an oversimplification, but it’s true. The little things you do for each other, the kindness and care you show go a very long way toward building goodwill and good feelings between you.
- Remember when and why you fell in love in the beginning – Think back to when you first fell in love with your partner. They’re still that same person; you are seeing them through different eyes and the lens of conflict. Your goal should be to rekindle that spark, renew your commitment and find that love between you again.
It takes a 100% commitment and a great deal of time and energy to make the repairs to your relationship. You both have to be equally involved and on the same page or it will not work. Use this outline to decide if it’s right for you to take these steps, and find a reputable, licensed couples counselor to assist you on this journey. Make no mistake, this will be hard. Will it be worth it? I think so. You both have to be “all in” on this deal. If you both want to stay together you’ll find a way to make it work. Vulnerability isn’t a weakness; on the contrary, it’s strength in repairing your connection with your partner.