Couples come to see me with many complaints, such as communication problems, arguments over money, the in-laws, the housework, the kids … but in essence they are often asking for help with the same thing, which is to repair their emotional connection.
When we don’t feel connected to our partner, it can be a lonely place.
Partners can sometimes get stuck in a rut of repetitive negative thoughts about each other. They become caught inside their arguments about who is right, who is justified in feeling the way they do. Proving one’s rightness can devolve into a life or death struggle, but it only serves to become an obstacle to real connection. As the old saying goes, you can be right, or you can be married. Once the connection begins to dissolve, however, it can be a negative downward spiral to separation.
We grow up being taught that when we finally meet the perfect person, we will live happily ever after. This idea does us a great disservice because there is no perfect person, and all relationships, romantic or otherwise, require some work. So, if we start wounding each other we should spend less time questioning if the other person is really ‘the one’, and more time rolling up our sleeves to do the work; that is if we decide that we are willing to do the work with this person, or if we want to move on and try to learn the lesson with someone else. It might help to remember though, that love is not about novelty, it is about creating real emotional security together.
As an illustration of this, I wanted to share a moment in a couple therapy session that I witnessed which was simple, but extremely moving to watch, and a reminder of how creating connection can heal even the most troubled relationship. I had asked each partner to verbalize what the other person could do each day to help them feel more connected with each other. The wife talked about wanting him to do more around the house and improve his communication. When she had finished I invited him to share his ideas. He took her hand and said, “It would mean everything to me if once a day, every day, you could just take a minute to make real eye contact with me”. At that moment, for the first time in their therapy, I could feel the connection between the couple. They were sharing the same space, perhaps for the first time in quite a while. Her expression had changed, and she turned and met his gaze. Tears welled up for each of them (and perhaps a little for me too).
Emotional connection is about communicating from a place of vulnerability and trusting that your partner will respect you and reciprocate. Taking the risk to connect from the heart and not the head is when we start taking the real journey together in a relationship.
Next time I will be exploring how we make bids for emotional connection with each other, and how to respond to your partner to strengthen the relationship.
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.
This article was also published on English Informer in France: https://www.theenglishinformer.com/article_detail/Yearning-for-Connection