Most of us in a relationship often focus on what we are not getting. We might remember the early days with our partner when everything felt so perfect, but now things are not the same.
This is very common with couples. All of us stay intoxicated with our new mate in the beginning. And as time moves on we start to feel that all-over love feeling slipping away. Then we might even question if we are with the right person.
Many of us crave to be in love with our special person. A lot of us grow up believing that when we find the right partner our lives will be wonderful. So finding the right mate often takes a lot of energy and because it’s so important often times we need proof inside ourselves that we have made the right choice.
But finding the right person is no guarantee that you will be happy or be able to feel love. These are skills that many people have yet to learn but insist that the mate provide them just the same.
One of the most challenging parts of being in a relationship. is what to do when partners misunderstand each other, because misunderstandings can often lead to hurt feelings.
I saw this situation play out recently as I worked with a couple during counseling. I first met the wife who told me about her husband, who she said she loved but who was always unhappy. She didn’t know what to do about it.
She even said he sometimes was mean–so mean she did not know how to handle his moods. I listened, but being a counselor I listen with therapeutic ears. I know that when people are unhappy and they are angry it is because something inside of them feels terrible.
When we consider our partner when we feel upset, we are staying in the relationship. When we sit in our own feelings because we have been hurt and stay mad or sad, we stay alone, even if we are in a relationship, we will feel alone.
This is one of the hardest things for couple to understand. Here’s what I often see when counseling a couple: both have been hurt and are distanced from their mate. Both feel that their partners should do something different to make them feel better.
Feeling unappreciated can happen in an instant. Let’s say you are the cook in your relationship. You plan a meal, make the food and expect that your partner will arrive so everything will come out exactly so. But then they don’t and the minutes go by and you start to worry that the food you prepared so well will be cold and not as good. This causes you stress and now you feel as if your partner doesn’t care and you are now feeling unappreciated.
I know how this can happen because my husband is the cook in my family. I have in the past taken longer at work than I told him and when I finally came home he said something like, “I thought you would be home sooner.” He just sounded so bummed and sad. Then he said, “I wish you would let me know when you are going to be later.”
I think all of us have some sort of expectation when we do something nice for another. I think it’s pretty human for us to expect to feel something good when someone receives what we have given them. But I had an insight recently that challenged that notion.
I was thinking about a couple of times when I made an effort to be gracious to another, yet after the exchange I felt empty. I realized that I was waiting for a great response and since I didn’t get it, the experience was lacking. That’s when the insight kicked in. And I thought, the giving is the gift.
I had this idea recently and it came to me while walking my dog. She is an old girl, a small white little one. I was noticing as we were just wandering down the sidewalk that we were in sync. Both of us were stride by stride.
And that’s when it hit me, we have cultivated this ease at walking together by doing the same thing over and over again. And in that moment when I was noticing it, it felt like the best thing in the world. Just the two of us, just us.
Then I flashed to other habits that I enjoy in my life, and I immediately thought of the time I spend in the morning with my husband, just sitting in our den, reading the newspaper, drinking tea or coffee and just being.
When we are in a relationship and we are close to someone special, we feel everything: love, hate, revulsion, gratitude, pleasure, disturbance, kindness and disappointment. Those are just some of the things we feel, when interacting with different facets of our partners.
Every relationship is like this. We all feel everything. This is how humans interact. When we fall in love with our special person, we let down all our defenses and we let our person come close. It feels so good to feel loved, and for many of us it might even feel like the first time this is happening to us.
I was running in my neighborhood one Thanksgiving Day. The streets were empty, and smells filled the air. I was thinking about the meal I would be eating later, with loved ones, when a sharp yell pierced the air. It was a woman screaming at a child.
I heard it come from a home across the street so I couldn’t see who was yelling, but I got an instant picture. At first I felt pain for the child, but then the mind traveled to the one who was yelling and I realized something else. It was something familiar I must have felt as a child, something this woman could be feeling at this moment.
Expressing feelings in relationships doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Maybe you struggle with expressing your feelings in a relationship. Or perhaps you have a partner who has trouble expressing their feelings.
I bet many of us have suffered when we have tried to get our partners to open up about their feelings. I hear this situation often when I meet a new couple during a counseling session.
It usually starts out with the female saying, “He doesn’t like to share his feelings and I don’t know what is happening to him.” And sometimes it can be the opposite where the male says, “I never know what she is thinking. She doesn’t share with me.” It even happens in same sex couples, so you know this is a problem with all genders.