I met a new couple recently. They wanted to see if I could help them “fix” their relationship. They had been estranged for a while, but were hoping they could work through their issues for the kids.
I listened to each of them and I was struck with the hardness they both felt for each other. Each had been holding on to what was done to them in the years they had tried to make their relationship work. She felt betrayed. He felt attacked. Both were sad and disappointed.
I hear couples talk a lot about connection. In fact, feeling disconnected is probably one of the biggest difficulties couples face. Often one of the partners will say something like, “I just don’t feel connected to him.” But it could be a man saying this too. Feeling connected is something we all feel inside our body, and it is different for every one of us.
Some of us live inside our feelings and literally feel everything that happens to us. That’s me. I am a right-brain-dominant person, which means that I experience the world through my feelings. Imagine how frustrated I felt when I coupled with a person who is left-brain-dominant. That means he interacts with the world through his thinking mind. He thinks first. I feel first. We are different.
Everyone who has ever loved another has been hurt by the one they love. There is no relationship in the world that is without pain. It’s just not possible. Now that’s not saying there aren’t people who just don’t fight or get upset. There are probably lots of couples out there that don’t get mad at each other. But that is not the majority of us, and those that NEVER disagree or fight, well I can’t imagine having every thought in my head mirrored perfectly by my mate.
As humans who live close together we are bound to see that we are different than our partner. It is that difference that leads to quarrels and disagreements. Most of us feel very strongly about the way we look at things and the way we like to think. We are attached to our view of the world, including how things should be done in our home.
When we love another person we want the relationship to work and to last and to be perfect. This is how all couples begin. But some people want a relationship so badly they will do anything for their mate. And this leaves some of us feeling as if we have lost ourselves.
It’s something many couples face. And there’s a good reason as to why this happens. We love our person and we want them to be happy. Of course we want our mate to be happy. So why wouldn’t we just think about what they would like and how to make their life better?
All of us who are in a relationship have many things in common. First off, we all probably want it to work. We most likely want to live peacefully with the person we love. Another thing we probably all agree on is that we don’t want to fight. We just want to get along and experience good feelings with each other.
Yes, I believe we can all agree on what we want. Now here’s what we don’t want. We don’t want to get our feelings hurt. We don’t want to get mad at our mate. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves or work too hard for our partner. I bet we can all agree on what we don’t want too.
When we find our special person and we feel connected to them in ways that seem magical, we begin to believe, in parts of our body, that this is what we have been looking for all our life. This feeling we have with our person is the real thing. We want it to last. We all want our relationships to go on and be this way forever.
All relationships begin this way. Then other things start to happen and people wonder where that beautiful, wonderful feeling went to. Couples still say they love each other, but sometimes they don’t feel loved by one another. Sometimes, people wonder if their partner—the one who loves them—really loves them.
Every one of us does something when we are angry. All of us have some kind of behavior that accompanies feelings of being wronged. It’s just how humans are wired.
I was thinking about this after reading a story about a married couple. They love each other. He is deaf and nearly blind. They communicate through sign language where the husband places his hands on the wife’s. That’s how they talk. It was a beautiful story. It told how they fell in love, through communicating with holding each others hands.
The story gave rich details about their lives. It even mentioned something everyone goes through, which some people did not expect. This couple gets mad at each other too. Only when the feelings are big, they still have to connect their hands in order to tell each other what is wrong…
Many times when I work with couples I hear them wishing they felt better. I feel their discomfort when they tell me about their partner and how they don’t feel loved. I empathize with the individuals who tell me how unhappy they are about feeling distant in their relationship.
These feelings are pretty common. And there are reasons why. When we fall in love with our special person everything feels better than it’s ever felt. We fall in love with that feeling and we hunger for it when it goes away.
All of us in relationships want to feel accepted and received by the person we love. It’s a longing we all share and impossible not to feel. We crave our person to see us and to remind us that we matter. We need to feel valued by the one we love and we hunger for these reassuring moments.
So the idea that we may NOT feel loved, necessary, or that we matter to our mate is, in my opinion, one of the worst things we can feel.
I was thinking about a birthday in the family the other day. I remembered to wish that family member a happy birthday, and it felt good to do so. Then I remembered that even though I always remember this person’s special day, they never remember mine. And when I thought about being forgotten, I felt sad.
Then I thought more about it and realized that my family member loves me no matter what. This family member didn’t stop loving me when they didn’t wish me a “Happy Birthday.” There was no withholding of love from me. There was no deliberate act of unloving anywhere. So why would I have a thought about this person who just didn’t know something?