What to do if you and your partner have lost the common ground and the connection you once had
We’ve all been there: It’s Sunday evening and we were talking about all the things that need to happen this week. And then BOOM! We’ve ignited an argument that we can’t seem to find our way out of. Thirty minutes and a few choice words later, we aren’t even sure where it started.
We certainly recognize the place we’ve reached. It’s all too familiar. They aren’t hearing you, even though you’ve had this argument before. Maybe they shut down, walk away, or shut you out. You find yourself protesting — raising your voice, blaming, criticizing, and listing their “sins”. Eventually we land on an unstable truce and let it go. Nothing really got solved.
You go to bed, still mulling over the details. Hurt. Angry. Emotionally alone.
Something has to change or we aren’t going to make it.
If any of this sounds familiar– you’re not alone. Research shows that 80% of couples are caught in this type of dynamic. Some of those relationships are more distressed than others– but the dance is all the same.
The first thing to know is that it can be different for you and your partner, if you are willing to do the work. (If one of you isn’t sure about doing the work or is contemplating a separation, Divorce Discernment Counseling might be helpful).
What can you do to start down a journey of regaining connection and support?
First, remember that these situations are incredibly hard for both of you– this hurts so much BECAUSE it is so important. This isn’t a disagreement with the cashier at Wal-Mart. This is conflict with the person you committed your life to– YOUR person. The stakes are high here, resulting in more stress.
Second, you might consider reading Sue Johnson’s book “Hold Me Tight”. Sue developed the model of couples counseling that I have advanced training in: Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). It’s designed to guide you and your spouse or partner through seven conversations to stimulate connection.
If you aren’t able to make progress with “Hold Me Tight”, it might be time to consider couples or marriage counseling. EFT has an astounding 75% success rate among couples who complete the model. 86% of couples report feeling happier in their relationship.
Sue says it best: “In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we don’t heal relationships. We create relationships that heal.”
I’ve recorded a short video about EFT– you can check it out for more information.