You might be wondering what I mean by my title, or perhaps you already know what I am alluding to. For those of you who aren’t sure, I am speaking of the emotional distance that sneaks into our intimate relationships. Relationship expert John Gottman, Ph.D., reports that emotional distance is one of the key issues that leads to separation and in some cases infidelity.
Relationships are complicated arrangements that can seem simple on the surface. Add in the busy schedules of work, travel, daily chores, and children and you can soon find yourself feeling like you are just living with a good friend that helps with the daily grind. Or even worse they might not really help at all because they are consumed by work or social commitments that leave little energy for relationships within the home. So now what?
Communicating the Issue
As hard and as hopeless as it might seem, there is hope; that is, if you are willing to take a risk and speak up and if your partner is committed to the relationship. If you have spoken up and it hasn’t gone over well (think defensive responses leading to more resentment and distance) then perhaps it’s time to consider seeking the help of a professional. If you have difficulty approaching these types of topics, you might also consider capturing your concerns in an email and sharing that with your partner. Make sure that you express yourself using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For instance, “I am feeling distance between us” instead of “you seem distant.” Remember, as much as we don’t like to admit it, all relationship problems have two contributors, who are also partners in making it great.
Email can be a great way to start the conversation and get things out into the open. Once that is done you should consider scheduling time to check in with each other on a regular basis. Think of it as relationship maintenance. It might sound corny but the reality is that as life’s commitments pull us in many different ways, time is stolen from our relationships.
A lot of what I write here comes from my own life experiences and I share it in hopes that you may see yourself in my stories and not feel that you stand alone in your challenges. It’s never too late to learn more about how to start telling your story and what can be done to change its direction.
Jaime Davila is a bilingual therapist specializing in men’s issues. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-340-2799.