I love watching people connect, especially couples. I find it fascinating to observe the physical and psychological communication between two people and try to notice the subtle differences between the interactions of a thriving relationship and that of an apathetic one. I sometimes play a game when I’m sitting in a restaurant or café. I study the couples around me and try to guess whether they’re married / in a long-standing relationship or whether they’re enjoying a fresh, new romance.
It’s usually pretty easy to pick the long-term relationships. Typically, they’re the ones sitting at the table staring past each other’s shoulders into space, or looking into their food, barely speaking, throughout their entire meal. They look bored, unhappy and disinterested, as if they would rather be anywhere else, with anyone else.
It is obvious that not only has the passion of “love” long gone, but also that they are not in rapport with each other even as friends, let alone husband and wife or lovers. It makes me wonder what could have happened in their relationship to bring them to this depth of emptiness in which they are so disconnected from each other.
Feeling disconnected from someone you love and care about can be one of the most painful and stressful experiences a person can have. You may want to melt the iciness and reconnect with them, but there seems to be this invisible barrier that feels impossible to overcome. So perhaps you stop trying and the silence, the politeness and the coldness continues. You hope that soon everything will get back to normal but right now this is normal, and it hurts like hell. You feel miserable and depressed.
People suffering from relationship troubles might not need or necessarily benefit from therapy and / or counselling. What they do likely need is education. They need to learn different relationship strategies and tools - ones that will enable them to succeed!
Good communication skills are foundational to successful relationships. However, good communication doesn't come naturally to most people, especially when there are powerful emotions involved. Most of us don’t know when we are trying to influence and control (intentionally or unconsciously) or simply talking to exchange feelings or information. Very often it's the things people can't or won't talk about that ends up destroying their relationships.
The good news is that everyone is capable of increasing the level of intimacy in their relationship. All it takes is intention and the willingness to change. People who are ready for that change will benefit from learning some basic communication skills.
People don't get together with the intention of hurting each other and destroying the relationship. They don’t plan to become argumentative, impatient, insulting, aggressive or rude. They don’t want to feel used, bitter, resentful or down in the dumps and they certainly don’t seek to be constantly retreating into their shell or losing their temper with the other person. Perhaps, couples simply need to learn how to reconnect with the way that they thought, felt and acted when the relationship began.
We owe it to the people with whom we have close relationships to take the time to really understand what makes them tick, what motivates them and what upsets them. We owe it to ourselves to learn skills to ensure that a relationship which begins so wonderfully continues to flourish and get better rather than gradually deteriorates!
I guess the only question to ask yourself is: “Is your relationship worth nurturing and if yes, when would NOW be the right time to start?”