What Went Wrong?

I often work with couples who impress upon me how they just don’t know what went wrong in their relationship.  They started out so loving and happy and then they woke up somewhere down the road, years later and they just don’t have that happy feeling anymore and they don’t know why.

They tell me it’s because they may have fallen out of love for their partner.  They also tell me they are not sure if they can get “it” back.

The “it” is the feeling couples experienced when they first got together, that loving, wonderful state that makes us believe we will always feel fantastic with our person.

We sign up for the relationship and believe that we will always feel this way with the person we have chosen.  Only we don’t.  We start to notice things about them that we don’t’ like.  They start to nag us or complain, or ignore us and we don’t like that.

These are the normal patterns that set in when a couple moves beyond the first phase of bliss.  It’s what we do about these differences that determine how the relationship survives.

If we have some experience in relationships we might have some communication skills to speak about our feelings with our beloved.  If we are fairly young in the relationship world we might just be beginning to discover ourselves and what we want and need for happiness, so we may not know how to communicate those things yet.

Each person brings their habits from their singlehood; how they took care of themselves, how they communicated with others, how they feed themselves and clean up after themselves.  These are habits people bring into a relationship that were most likely formed in their childhood.  Each person in a couple brings their own set of comforts around these issues.

When we are in a blissful state of loving our partner, no one thinks about the socks left on the floor.  Such a little detail would be meaningless and laughable in this state of love.  But just wait a few years after one of the partners has been picking up dirty socks for the other and is so tired of doing it they will scream if they have to pick up one more dirty sock from the floor.

Then the couple comes in to counseling and tells me they just fell out of love with their mate and they don’t know why.

It is my belief as a Marriage and Family Counselor that couples have more  to become good at a lot of jobs in order to have a successful relationship.

In no particular order except that they are all equally important, each person in the relationship has to become aware of their own feelings and reactions to their mate.  Each person must also become an expert in their partner’s feelings and learn how to attend them.  Both people in a relationship have to be conscious of how they communicate with their beloved.

If you were talking to a hurt child you would be kind, caring and compassionate.  Regardless of how mad you may get at your mate, you can not throw up your anger on them.  Unless you are truly with a terrible person, it’s almost always the case that what ever the perceived hurt you may have felt, it was not done intentionally.

You picked a good person.  You picked the right person.  Your job is to learn how to be the best mate you can be and to take care of the person you are sharing your life with as your partner will do for you.  Now that is a great relationship, where no one gets blindsided.

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