Has The Spark Left Your Relationship?
Do you feel lonely in your relationship? Does it feel like it’s been months or even years since you were last touched or really seen or heard by your partner? Have life commitments like kids and careers consumed the energy and time you once had for each other? Do you oftentimes feel angry, frustrated, resentful or just plain sad? Do you long to feel closer to your partner and want him or her to desire the same feelings of closeness?
Even the strongest of romantic relationships can go through fazes of emotional and romantic strain. It can be a brief slump – following the birth of a child or a new job – or it can turn into months or even years. During these times it’s not unusual to wonder if you still really know the person you married. It’s common to wonder what happened to the spark, when it went out and if it’s possible to get it back. You may feel heart wrenchingly lonely and ache to regain a physical and emotional connection with your lover.
Relationship Ups and Downs Are Common
The feelings of disconnect that you’re experiencing toward your partner are totally normal. Relationships are kind of like roller coasters. It’s common to go through ups and downs as well as periods of time when you experience closeness followed by times when you feel very far apart. Things happen in life that trigger these ebbs and flows. Babies are born. Kids take over time. You may move. One or both of you may experience great success or strife with work. What’s important, however, is that you take the time to recognize what’s happening in your relationship and learn how to rekindle your intimate connection.
Couples Counseling for Intimacy Issues Can Work Wonders
A highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can help guide you and your partner back to each other. Therapy, at its core, is intimate. It allows for a safe space to begin talking and reconnecting. Even your initial meeting with a good therapist can help. It can provide the diving board needed to begin a conversation when you’re at a loss about where to start. With help, both you and your partner will have the ability, time and space needed to speak the truths around your primary emotions. You’ll explore what blocks each of you from being more intimate. Just the process of sharing actually helps to begin the rebuilding of your intimate connection.
Your BPS couples therapist can teach you how to have more honest and deepening conversations. You’ll learn how to ask your partner – and yourself – questions that are open and strengthening. Eventually you’ll move out of a place of conflict and disconnect and into one that is emotionally supportive and nourishing.
But you still may have questions or concerns…
I think my partner and I really need therapy, but I don’t think that he/she would be willing to try.
One partner desiring therapy while another does not is more common that you might think. If your partner is hesitant about therapy, you may try to gently encourage him or her to try, to experiment with you. Often people have fear that they will be blamed in therapy or have a fear of honesty, especially if an infidelity has weakened the relationship. Together you can decide to give it a trial run – maybe three sessions – and see how it goes. Your therapist will be able to explain to you both that no one person is at fault. Rather, it’s something in the “system” of your relationship that isn’t working and needs to be addressed. Alleviating the fear of blame can oftentimes be very helpful.
If your partner still refuses, therapy can still be beneficial if you come on your own – and it may even elicit a curiosity in your partner to attend a session. Although it is highly recommended that both partners attend, working on your own issues and learning some tools to help improve communication and build intimacy can lead to a stronger and more connected relationship.
I’m afraid that things will get worse if we go to therapy. What if we learn that there’s no hope? I’m not ready for divorce.
The idea of reconnecting can be really scary. And, it’s not uncommon to wonder where the relationship will be headed if one or both of you decide that your relationship is beyond repair. However, you may want to ask yourself how many years you’ve been fighting or feeling detached from each other. And, yes, the worse thing that can happen would be that you realize that a divorce is necessary – which may be entirely possible if your relationship goes on as-is without therapy anyway.
If things between you and your partner really are that bad, therapy gives you the opportunity to address what’s happening and to try to get back to a nourishing and supportive place. You may be surprised and learn that it’s entirely possible to reestablish the connection that you once had.
I’m afraid of the things that I may say to or hear from my partner in therapy.
Talking honestly about feelings can be hard work and make you feel very vulnerable. And, it’s common to experience fear about talking openly with your partner – especially if you’ve both been walking on eggshells for a long time. But, the only way to move toward bettering your relationship and becoming closer is to share your feelings. Sharing honestly, while scary, actually creates intimacy. Your BPS couples therapist is highly trained and has the experience to coach you through the sharing of difficult emotions. With help, it’s entirely possible for you and your partner to share and communicate in ways that don’t feel scary. Rather, your relationship can feel comfortable and supportive. It is possible to regain that feeling of closeness.
We encourage you to schedule an initial assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and to ensure a good match between you, your partner and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise working with couples’ intimacy issues.