Lean on Your Partner to make it Through the Holidays

Lean on your partner to get through the holidays

I don’t know anyone who is not feeling greater stress during this time of year. Even terrific moments with people we love can cause us stress, and that’s if family and extended family are individuals we WANT to see. It’s even more stressful if we are acting out of obligation.

Whatever your circumstances, it’s probably likely there will be at least a few people who drive us up a wall and cause us enormous stress. Welcome to the holidays. Not to mention the numerous details; buying gifts, decorating, baking, cooking sending cards, and trying to be a loving person on top of all that.

I’m stressed just writing about it. Let’s just acknowledge it; Holidays are HARD! And they can be much harder if you turn on the one person who is your rock 90 percent of the time, your partner. Think right now what a good team you make during a crisis. Now ask yourself if you are pulling your hair out and fighting more than usual with your mate?

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Why We End Up Feeling Lonely in a Relationship

Man Feeling Alone in a Relationship Broods on a Jetty

I was listening to someone talk about feeling lonely in their relationship the other day and I realized that sometimes I feel the same thing. It isn’t as often as it used to be, but sometimes it’s there; that wonder if my partner really loves me, or loves me in this moment or if my mate is thinking about me even though I can’t feel it.

I think it’s common for people who are close to another to sometimes feel this. I know over the years the wonder or worry has decreased. But earlier in my relationship I often wondered if my beloved loved me when I couldn’t feel it.

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Love Advice: When You’re Feeling Unloved in a Relationship

how do you know when you are loved?

I saw this young couple walking down the street. The woman reached up and kissed her man on the mouth while continuing their pace. He joined her in the quick kiss and when he pulled his head back he wore the biggest smile. That looked like love. And they probably both felt it in that moment.

It’s easy for most of us to know when we feel love, but how do you tell and how do you know when you are loved? I was thinking about this concept the other day. I wondered because in my own experience sometimes I don’t feel very lovable.

Feeling unloved is tough. I have some good news and some bad news about it. First, the bad news: it’s incredibly common. The good news is that even if you feel unlovable, there’s lots of hope, and signs of being loved might just be right under your nose.

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Always Wearing a Happy Face

Every one in a relationship wants to feel loved by their partner.  To feel loved, many individuals will put on a happy face and maintain a persona that everything is fine, even when it isn’t.  Often people are so good at acting like they are happy that the partner has no idea anything could be wrong.

Unfortunately, if you are projecting a happy demeanor when communicating with your partner, you may feel stuck in one place and very much alone.  That’s because a lot of other feelings; sad, disappointed, mad, irritated, frustrated, fed up, discouraged, disheartened, worried, nervous, unsafe etc. NEVER GET EXPRESSED.

You may be an expert at delivering the happy feelings, but mum on anything else. If you always show a good face to your mate, how can you maintain that happy face when expressing sadness?  You can’t. So, no unhappy face ever gets shown to the partner.  Nope, just pretend everything is OK, always.

Oh, distressful feelings are felt, but the person experiencing them doesn’t share them, and the partner never hears them.  This leads both people feeling disconnected in the relationship.  He doesn’t know what’s going on with her; she doesn’t know what’s going on with him.  Both feel apart from the other.  The one who doesn’t share feelings might begin to think their partner just doesn’t understand them.  The partner who is left in the dark might start to feel unimportant to his mate.  Usually they can sense that their partner is withholding something, and they might even inquire, and it might sound something like this; “Is everything all right?”  “Are you OK?”  “Is anything wrong?”

The answer is probably always the same, and it’s likely that it’s a denial that sounds something like, “No, everything is fine.”  Oh, there definitely is something wrong, but the person who always shows a sunny disposition hasn’t a clue on how to tell the partner what it is.  Part of the reason is because he or she isn’t quite sure how to explain it.  All they know is that they feel something like emptiness, or not feeling loved, or not being understood, or longing for something more.  It’s usually a mixture of feelings that don’t have words attached to it. But the person feels it.  It’s heavy and lives in the pit of the stomach and doesn’t go away.

This partner might even be able to talk about his or her feelings with another person.  They might be able to explain these feelings in great detail.  “I feel so alone.”  “He or she just doesn’t understand me.”  And while they come easily pouring out to someone else they can’t fathom how to share them with their partner.  No, they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. They are sure they are unhappy, but they can’t figure out what to do about it.

As a couples counselor I see this situation often.  Both people will eventually feel that the relationship is on the brink of breaking and then the couple will make an appointment to see someone like me.  Both are stuck in some sort of misery and they are hoping I can figure it out and help get them back on track.  That’s the best case scenario.  Sometimes though, a couple has been feeling so distant from each other in the relationship for such a long time that one of the partners may have already moved on to another person. Therapy at this stage requires a whole different level of understanding and repair.

This is what I know about couples counseling:  If a couple is willing, there’s always room to learn more about yourself and your partner in a relationship.  There’s always a way to understand your own behavior and see how it affects your mate.  There’s always room to try something new, to risk showing your feelings and not holding them inside.  Sometimes couples are able to change how they relate to each other and improve their relationship, making it something better than either ever dreamed.

It’s possible to build something true for each of you.  It’s possible to create a safe place for you both to show all your parts, not just the happy ones.  This creates true depth between two people, something that all couples are looking for.

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Giving Too Much in a Relationship

Sometimes with couples there is an imbalance.  One person may feel drained because he or she does everything they can think of to make the relationship work.  They give everything to their partner and to the relationship.  They are under the
impression that if they continue to give, if they give more than any other person ever could, if they do everything imaginable; they will save the relationship.

They might even take this concept one step further; they believe that if the relationship fails it’s because they did not do enough.

It’s heartbreaking to see people suffering in this situation. These are good people who are sad, overwhelmed and afraid their relationship is ending and it’s their fault because they haven’t found a way to prevent it. They push themselves beyond their limits to do more, look for different angles, create something else; all in the name of preserving the relationship in order to feel loved by the other.

The unfortunate part of this scenario is that the person who gives everything to the other believes that if the partner just returned their love they would become whole.  I believe this is a fantasy.  The giver believes all they need is love.  The sad truth is that no amount of love can fill the void or need that exists within the giver.

People give to feel better.

People give because that’s how they’ve been trained to experience acceptance, admiration and love.  People give so they will feel appreciated, respected and cared for.  Giving is good, but giving can’t be shelled out in exchange for a payoff.  If the giver is waiting for a response to feel better about his self, the giver may be setting himself up for unhappiness unless he asks for what he needs and desires.

Usually a giver believes that if they give enough they will feel the love they are missing.  Givers often believe their partner will respond with gratitude and appreciation and the giver will feel safe and accepted. Usually this is unconscious and unspoken, yet expected.

If couples want to work through this predicament, they must begin to understand their own wants and desires.  If the giver can realize she wants her partner to love her in return, she might be able to speak this request, and ask for what she desires from her partner. The partner may have been oblivious to the giver’s needs because those wants and desires have not been put into words.

It’s important to give in a relationship.  It’s a wonderful thing to give to your partner.  It’s self-sacrifice to give at your own expense and expect something in return that has never been stated.

Learn to understand yourself.  In doing so you can begin to become aware of your desires, and you may begin to understand just how much giving you do for your partner to get those desires answered. Become conscious of what you contribute. If it becomes too much, stop. Don’t do any more.  Become clear on what is missing from your relationship.  Maybe you feel empty and unloved after giving so much of yourself. When you realize what’s missing you may be able to ask your partner for what you would like.  Maybe you would like your partner to acknowledge how much you do for them.  Maybe you would like your partner to say thank you and tell you he appreciates you. This is the beginning, the beginning
of becoming true to yourself and asking for what you want.  This effort may ultimately bring you what you may really crave, a truthful relationship where both of you feel loved.

Send your comments to linda@lindanusbaum.com


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