Unresolved Emotional Distance in a Committed Relationship
By Lawrence Kaufman, Florida Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
7301 W Palmetto Park RD, Suite 201 A, Boca Raton FL 33433-3456
Darlene and Noah
Darlene and Noah have been in a committed relationship for over ten years. At the beginning of their first couple session, Darlene made the following remark:
“We love one another, but have grown apart and have become more distant from one another over the years. We hardly spend much time together, and seem to have little in common. I don’t know what happened to bring us to this place. I feel so unhappy, dissatisfied, and alone. I’d like you to change Noah back into the man I first fell in love with.”
After hearing this, Noah felt criticized and turned off. Noah then responded by saying: “She’s always complaining. I don’t now what she wants from me. I earn a good living, I don’t have a drinking or drug problem, and I come home right after I leave work.” Right away I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us in our therapy sessions.
As each partner opened up about their different views of reality concerning their relationship, more and more became clear about what had “gone wrong” in their relationship. It is quite common when partners first meet, that they form an idealizing relationship with another. That is, they both tend to have a positive bias towards one another.
They tend to minimize or overlook their partner’s negative (disliked, objectionable) qualities, actions, and character traits. In other words, they put one another on a pedestal. They become caught up in love, romance, companionship, and excitement. Finally, they believe, they have met their “special someone”! This is a great feeling – but it doesn’t last.
Reality eventually catches up with their fantasies, and they then feel disillusioned and let down. What was once so very, very good between them erodes over time. Then are then faced with the challenging task of rebuilding their relationship. A Skilled Couple Counselor helps guide clients to more effectively and more quickly improve their relationships.
An effective therapist helps people like Darlene and Noah reconnect with one another
Sometimes in fundamentally different ways. Both need to learn how to understand and see the other’s point of view. This can be very difficult for many people. Fortunately, Noah and Darlene did love and like one another, enjoyed one another’s company in many ways, and were highly motivated to turn their relationship around.
This allowed them to break their “negative interaction cycles” – their repetitive use of dysfunctional (ineffective and sometimes destructive) communication patterns with one another. The sharply reduced their use of blaming, shaming, accusing, attacking, and fault finding with one another. They learned the valuable skills of “give and take,” being able to compromise, and talking with one another about their relationship issues and problems before they got out of control.
They ended up feeling much closer to one another when they understood that they could, and needed to, balance out their differing needs for togetherness and aloneness. Their shared sex life then improved dramatically. They became much happier and satisfied with one another when they learned how to focus much more on the positives in their relationship, and much less on the negatives in their relationship.