It’s in the Little Things
In my many years as a therapist, one thing seems to never change. Couples wait too long to start therapy. They wait until the anger and resentment has boiled over resulting is arguments that seem to always be about the same things, hurt feelings, yelling, stone walling, criticism and defensiveness.
They walk into my office hoping that I can magically fix things for them. They want to know how to communicate better and that will solve all the problems.
The reality is that poor communication is not the problem with the relationship, it is simply a symptom of something bigger. It’s a symptom of a relationship that is lacking a deep, intimate and true connection.
Life, work, kids, aging parents often steal time and energy away from us and for some reason we place our relationship or our marriage on the back burner where it slowly evaporates into nothingness.
And, it seems that just before there is nothing left, couples hear the smoke detector and jump into action. That European vacation that we have been talking about…that will do it, that will put us back to where we want to be. A new house…that’s it, we just need more room! Maybe just a lot more sex, yea we have to plan it (planning sex doesn’t work…more on that in a coming blog).
The healing isn’t in expensive romantic vacations more sex or a new house. It isn’t even about learning new communication skills. How do you communicate with someone you really don’t know very well? WHAT??!! Whoa, I know my partner incredibly well. Do you?
In the beginning you were curious about each other, right? You asked questions, lots of questions. You learned what is important to your future partner, their likes, dislikes, emotional connections in their life, everything you could. So, what happened? Why did you stop asking?
Your partner is not the same person you met and learned about 20 years ago, or 10 years ago. In fact, they are not the same person you fell in love with a year ago. Everyday life happens and we, as human beings, are always affected. We change, constantly.
Start asking questions. Not “How was work today?” but “Tell me about something that made you happy today?, “What did you struggle with today?”, “How are you feeling about your parents and their health struggles?’, “Is there anything that you would change about our family right now?
These little things, these little questions is what builds a secure, loving connected foundation for a life time of love and happiness.
Until next time…. Ask questions.
If you need help check out the Gottman Card Deck App and use the Love Maps and the Open-Ended Questions to get you started!