So you finally allowed yourself to admit it – you’re not happy in your relationship. You can’t put your finger on what exactly is wrong but you feel the distance. You stopped talking to each other apart from the proverbial “please pass the salt”. You don’t really care about each other anymore.
You really don’t want to live like that any longer but how to start?
I have some good news for you – and I have some bad. Actually, the bad news has to come first.
First, you are the one who has to take the initiative but not the initiative you imagined I’d suggest.
It’s not about talking to your partner, at least not yet.
The starting point is to take a good look at yourself.
Reflect, what is the fear – yes, the fear?
Taking the initiative requires you to make yourself vulnerable and that can be terrifying.
What if it’s too late and your partner doesn’t want to know? What if they reject you? What if they see you as not good enough, not worth making the effort for?
Your Gremlin or inner critic will whisper “Better let sleeping dogs lie”, meaning that, as long as you don’t shake things up, you don’t have to confront your fears and imagined flaws, you don’t have to put yourself in a position to be seen, you can continue to pretend that things are not so bad and that some of your friends have a relationship that is worse than yours.
You can continue to lie to yourself.
OK, I’ve made my point.
The second (and last) bit of bad news, is that you are the one who has to take the risk if you want a genuine and loving relationship. You have to make yourself vulnerable.
How do you do that?
Here are some good news – of sorts:
Chances are, your partner feels as you do – the distance, the lack of caring and yes, the loneliness too. And they probably experience the same fears as you so, if you no longer want to stay in that empty and meaningless space, it’s up to you to take that first step.
In the past I’ve been saying pretty much the same as everybody else – take responsibility for your feelings and, when you engage with your partner, use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ along the lines of “when you say/do ‘x’, I feel ‘y’.”
Now I recognise that’s not enough. You need to take it further – a whole lot further which is why you will need serious reflection and processing time before you can take that step.
By processing I mean allowing yourself to feel the fear, to feel the anxiety – and that takes courage!
If you can, reflect on when those feelings first arose. Who made you feel not good enough?
In my case, it started when I was a child.
My parents were always telling me how smart and pretty I was but I didn’t believe them.
I had freckles and curly red hair in a country (Argentina) where most children had either blond or dark hair so I was mocked and teased in school.
I had difficulty making friendships so, when I first met Jim, was it any surprise I decided to see if I could make him fall in love with me to prove to myself I was loveable and attractive as a woman? What a disaster that turned out to be!
So, back to you.
Go down memory lane, revisit those painful times and let yourself feel the pain and the fear of rejection – and then bring it to the table.
In your own words say something along the lines – “I miss you, I miss the times when we used to talk and laugh and cuddle. I’m sorry I let this distance between us go on far too long. I was afraid to bring it up in case you rejected me as I was when ….”
And then shut up – which is the hardest bit.
The ball is now in your partner’s court and what they choose to do with it is up to them. They might be too fearful to follow through – after all, they haven’t had time to reflect on their own fears as you did.
They may choose to respond in the way they always have which is likely to make you want to retreat to familiar ground. But, whether or not they admit it, their defensive armour may now have a chink in it.
That means they may come back – it may take a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks. Or they may be too fearful and entrenched to be able to respond.
Your challenge is not to be dragged back into the comfort zone which is like a slow death.
This could be a journey you may not want to do alone. I can help, be with you, hold your hand.
Do grab one of my free Obstacle Smashing Exploratory Sessions and talk it over. There’s no obligation and you will walk away with at least 3 things you can do to get started.
With love and gratitude
P.S. I coach women over 50 who have not yet made the connection between the quality of their relationship with themselves and others and the quality of their health.
If you’d like to discover how you can improve one to recharge the other, go to https://www.sueplumtree.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free Obstacle Smashing Exploratory session. There’s absolutely no obligation.
By the end of it, I promise you will have tips to get you started whether or not you choose to work with me.
P.P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ is now on Amazon and getting 5* reviews!