Some people stay in their relationships even when they feel distant from their partner. I’ve seen couples spend decades with a person they don’t really know, or think about. They just find a way to exist inside the relationship. It’s like they
live alone, even though they are a couple.
People who find themselves in this type of situation might wonder if their life is happy enough. They might quietly ask themselves if they could have a better life by making some changes. Maybe they resign themselves and just accept their circumstances.
I’ve worked with couples who have been together for decades. They tell me they don’t want to end their marriage. They tell me they love the other person. What I often see are two people who believe they know each other so well they don’t even see the other person anymore. They’ve become people who can answer the other’s sentences. They already know what the other person is going to say even before they say it. The curiosity and wonder about their mate has vanished.
They come to counseling to get “better”. They want what they used to have; closeness, laughter, possibilities. They want me to help them find it again, as if it’s just hidden somewhere and I can use my therapeutic x-ray vision to spot it. I wish it was this easy. I wish I could just help couples feel good about being in their relationship again.
But I know it’s not that simple. I do have good vision, and I can probably help couples see what happened to their relationship and why they feel the way they do. This is often helpful, but it’s just the beginning. The real work comes
when each person wants to have a better relationship and isn’t expecting the other to make it better for them.
If one or both people in the relationship are waiting for the other to change, that relationship is going to stay the same. It isn’t up to one person to make it different for the other. A relationship improves when both people look at themselves.
When each person starts to see how they talk, and react to the other person, then there’s a good chance for change.
In counseling each person begins to understand what he or she is about. They learn what they have wanted and needed from the other person and they acquire the skills to ask for it. If a couple wants to save a relationship it’s likely both want to see their partner happy. If this is your situation why not try counseling, dig in and fight for what you really want; love, closeness, understanding, kindness, support.