Written by: Courtney Redman
The lifecycle of a relationship can see many changes, whether just a product of time, new life phases, or pivotal moments. What we often forget is that as people, we can change a little with each new event and if we are not communicating with our partner, we can get to a point where the person in our home starts to feel a little less like the person we knew and a little more like a stranger.
So, what do you do when you feel emotionally disconnected from your partner?
When we realize we feel emotionally disconnected, that can be overwhelming at first. Panic and hopelessness are quick emotions that tell us nothing can change. Keep going! Those initial responses don’t have to be permanent. They are an adaptive way of your body reminding you that this matters to you. If you’re able to organize your panic as a sign that you’re afraid to lose something important, then we can pivot to addressing what is important to you.
First step, define for yourself what’s important to you about your partner and the relationship.
It can be helpful to look at photos or reminders of when the relationship first started to remind yourself of what first drew you to your partner. Reliving meaningful moments or conversations can help elicit emotional experiences you had at that time.
Next, identify what shows up now in your partner that can still create those feelings. It may feel less frequent, but there is likely something there that creates affection. Even if it seems small, everything matters.
You can also explore ways that you hope your partner feels affection or appreciation from you. Now this isn’t to say that they do receive it all the time. Identifying how you’re trying to connect can be an important point to build from and it may help you and your partner understand why it doesn’t seem to be landing.
If it feels more helpful to start organizing this for yourself first so that you feel a bit steadier before you approach your partner, that can be a great tool. For some people it will feel more natural to bring it to their partner early and do some of the exploration together. The important part for either approach is to just get the conversation going, and to remember to try and stay open in the conversation.
Chances are you and your partner are going to have different perspectives on how you are disconnected and what that has been like for each of you. That’s okay. You may learn that you both interpreted each other’s actions and made assumptions for years that were never what you truly thought or felt. It’s all information to help support reconnecting.
Starting the conversation about emotional disconnection can be nerve wracking. It may be that you don’t know how to, and couples counseling can be a great support system for bridging the gap and looking for ways to reconnect with your partner. Whether disconnection is a result of time, circumstance, or specific events, couples counseling can be a safe and supportive way to explore reconnecting with each other.
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