We all love being in the honeymoon stage of a relationship. We’re eager to know more about each other, blissfully happy and excited about building our future together, so what makes a relationship fall down? How can two people who were so in love, become verbally critical opponents who refuse to see the qualities of that person that first made them fall in love?
Regardless of your age, in the early stages of your relationship you tend to focus on what you like about the person. You admire their strength, their character, their tenacity and their smile. You’re focused on treating each other well. You both uplift, inspire and encourage the potential you see in each other. You notice their quirks and at first they’re cute.
Then you start noticing their annoying habits, but you don’t want to rock the boat early on in the relationship so you don’t say anything in case it compromises the relationship. You might hint at it from time to time, but don’t clearly communicate. Over time, resentment starts to build. This is because you have not clearly communicated the problem and your need for it to be resolved.
For most men and women, intimacy is a prerequisite for a healthy, happy and satisfying relationship. Lack of emotional intimacy leads to a lack of desire for sexual intimacy. When intimacy is lost, a relationship starts to quickly deteriorate.
Many relationships become out of balance because one partner puts all the effort into the relationship and the other becomes complacent. While complacency is a definite relationship killer, inadequate communication will also do a great deal of damage because it undermines trust and the feeling of safety between two people.
We all have our needs and it’s up to each individual to communicate them in an empowering manner. While some conversations can be difficult, you must be sure to remove blame. Communication breakdowns occur when you don’t know how to clearly communicate your needs and therefore inadvertently make the other person feel blamed or accused. In the early stages of a relationship, you might kiss and make up, however, consistently placing blame or accusing your partner will incrementally undermine feelings of intimacy, trust and connection.
Anger, hurt and frustration result from not feeling heard. They also result from not communicating clearly, not respecting each others needs and not being responsible for your thoughts, feelings and actions. While it may appear that your partner is responsible for triggering you, you are responsible for how you deal with that emotional trigger. To enable clear communication, you need to be able to respond rather than react. Otherwise you will continue to regurgitate old arguments and unresolved issues and never get to the current issue which needs to be resolved.
Difficult conversations always trigger emotional responses. When you try to ignore the intense, physical sensations of an emotional response you lose your ability to communicate clearly. This is due to the mental confusion that results from an unresolved emotional response. This is also what makes you mentally and verbally reactive to what the other person is saying.
Instead of those well-thought-out and calm observations you were going to share with your partner with regards to changes you require, you stumble over your words, appear confrontational and completely mess it up! This usually results in alienating your partner as well as increasing the emotional divide.
To be able to restore intimacy you need to take responsibility for how you are showing up in your relationship. It’s helpful to have a shared direction so you are both working toward what you want.
When you’re living with another person or sharing their space there needs to be compromise. We all have our own way of doing things. These can include ‘bad’ habits, which we would be willing to rectify once we know how important it is to our partner. Just know that changing a habit will require a little (or a lot) of encouragement. Becoming annoyed can hinder the progress, so go easy on yourself and your partner. After all, when someone is being critical toward you, do you feel motivated to make changes? New habits can take some time to become a habit so positive reinforcement is often necessary.
Remember that you need to work as a team. This includes lifting each other up with your words. It’s easy to criticise someone for their errors and this leads to many emotional responses being triggered. The fastest way to get what you want is to inspire people with your own behaviour, actions and words. While you can both be wise and apply the emotional reset when you’re triggered, how about also giving praise when your partner remembers to do something you appreciate? Like attracts like and life tends to bring to you more of what you are focussing on.