Does it feel like it’s been so long since you and your partner have been intimate? I’m not just talking about physically. What about those moments when you both felt connected emotionally? Do you remember when you were willing to risk being vulnerable because you trusted each other? Now that seems like a lifetime ago.
Maybe you and your partner neglected your relationship because you focused all your energy on raising your children. If they’re still young then you always have a reason why you’re so tired and stressed and have no time for the two of you because they need all your attention. However, if your children are grown up and out of your home, you can’t even use taking care of your kids as a distraction any more.
Maybe earlier in your relationship your partner broke your trust and even though your partner has expressed remorse you still haven’t let go of what happened.
Maybe you let life get in the way and didn’t make the effort to build your relationship around life rather than allowing life to be in control of your choices.
Regardless of what happened or what didn’t happen, now when you look at each other, it feels like you don’t even know each other. There’s little meaningful conversation because you’ve forgotten how to talk to each other. In many ways you’re leading separate lives and the only time you spend next to each other is when you’re lying in the same bed. And that’s not even satisfying because you don’t even go to sleep at the same time.
You want to feel the love again. Even though you feel numb there’s still a part of you that holds onto the hope that you can relight the fire you once had. You just don’t know how to start over again and you wonder if it’s too late to even try.
My experience is that if you had that connection once you can have it again. However if you want to bring the passion back in your relationship you need to first reconnect to your own feelings.
You might want to notice your good reasons for shutting down. Maybe you’re holding onto resentments and hurt and you’re blaming your partner for not initiating the closeness that you’ve been wanting. You’ve probably also been taking your partner’s behavior personally. By withdrawing you found a way to avoid feeling the loneliness from not being able to share love with your partner, the helplessness over your partner’s behavior and the heartbreak of the loss of your connection.
Once you set your intention to be willing to feel the difficult feelings of loneliness, helplessness and heartbreak then you don’t have to shut down anymore. Once you’re able to manage these core feelings then you can start opening up the conversation with your partner. Yes it will initially probably feel awkward. Yes there will be tears. Yes there will be differences in opinions about what happened. However you can learn how to communicate with each other in a healthier way. You can learn how to hear each other’s perspective without reacting. You can learn how to validate your partner so that you truly understand where your partner’s coming from. And you can feel empathy for what your partner has been experiencing.
Once you both take personal responsibility for each of your roles in the disconnection and are open to learning about your partner’s thoughts and feelings then reconnection is possible. And where there is reconnection there is the opportunity for intimacy. And where there is intimacy there is joy. And joy is where you want your relationship to be.