Feeling a disconnect between you and your partner? Perhaps even seething with anger and frustration toward him/her?
You’ve been hurt or misunderstood. Or perhaps you’ve done the hurting or been misunderstanding.
Relationships are full of ruptures – moments or experiences of missing each other on an emotional level. Often we feel wounded by the fracture. “It’s like he doesn’t even know me!” “She has no idea how much thought I put into this, and all I get is criticism!”
Get the Right Perspective
When a rift occurs, the instinct is to fight, dwell, vent and stew- sometimes to friends and sometimes to our partners directly.
Often the more we dig in, the more we prolong and deepen the pain. When emotions run high, it can feel that there is no way out. We decide we can only budge if the other person budges first.
The anger or pain can last days or even weeks, and then it becomes much harder to come back together. Was that your long term plan for this relationship?
In reality, there are usually two hurt parties when a rupture happens.
Phase one of repairing the rut: finding each other again by letting go of being right, and working on setting things right.
Be the One to Reach Out
Once you’ve accepted that being right is of little help, you can get to the next step: making an attempt to reconnect and heal. This is an important aspect of any successful relationship.
When one partner makes an attempt at reconnection, it could be obvious – a heartfelt invitation toward resolution, apology, understanding.
But it can also be subtle- a softening of the voice, turning toward you, emptying the dishwasher when you usually are the one to do it, asking if you want to watch something on TV together.
Be generous, find a way you can indicate to your partner that you are ready to sort things out and get to a better place.
Be Open to Your Partner
It’s also crucial to look for your partner’s attempts to repair things with you. Even if you are likely not feeling wholly ready to move on from this rupture, see if you can find some small part of you that can soften, remain open, and begin inching toward the repair.
If we miss the repair gesture, we miss an opportunity to come back together. If we can open our hearts to making or accepting the repair, we can weather these ruptures more readily.
It doesn’t mean burying the hurt or denying it – it can (and should) still be worked through. But to work through it from a more connected, solid footing will allow for a deeper understanding, greater chance for successful repair, and ultimately a more meaningful, intimate connection.
Leah Ottow, LCSW is a therapist at New Approaches, where we promote the idea that emotional health is essential for overall wellbeing. She specializes in helping people improve their relationship skills and enjoy a deeper connection with their partners.
Leah’s areas of interest include relationships, anxiety, life transitions, work issues, perfectionism, identity, depression, mindfulness, stress management, loneliness, and pregnancy/postpartum.
Feel free to email her at email@example.com or call 207-553-2260 ext. 2 for more information.