Ouch! Have you ever heard or spoken those words? Unfortunately, I have.
That moment when it hits us that your or your partner’s feelings have gone numb, or worse, there’s a slow burn of anger or resentment.
Feeling “in love” happens when we feel safe enough to share our deepest feelings and thoughts—to be vulnerable. Love thrives when we feel seen, understood, valued, and appreciated.
So, why does that feeling fade?
We all have fears, like fear of rejection, abandonment, or being controlled, and most of us have never learned how to heal these fears in a healthy way. Instead, we protect ourselves, usually either by becoming angry/needy/demanding, or else by pretending everything is “fine,” and distracting ourselves.
I worked with one client, James, who started spending more and more time at work because his wife Wendy would have angry outbursts, and he didn’t know what to do to calm her down. He felt disrespected, and felt like he was walking on a landmine because there was no way of knowing when she would start yelling.
When I asked how much time they were spending talking about their deeper feelings, dreams, and thoughts and really listening to each other, he told me that their life had become consumed by kids and responsibilities.
Their lives were busy, but when I dug deeper, we discovered that he could make more time to spend with her; he was just scared of being controlled by her emotions. He did want to hear her feelings, he had just never really learned how to listen to her feelings without getting defensive, or how to share his own in a way that did not upset her.
We did some role plays and I taught him how to REALLY listen to her feelings, give her reassurance, and ask clarifying and curious questions when he didn’t understand the point she was making. He also learned how to ask for what he needed.
At first Wendy didn’t trust that James wanted to listen, and would accuse him of not caring. She had felt ignored and was angry that it didn’t seem he wanted to listen to her.
I guided him to say, “When you say that I don’t care, I feel misunderstood, because I DO care. I DO want to listen. So that pushes me away, and I want to connect with you. Do you want to push me away? Then he would ask her more questions about what’s important to her.
Eventually she softened and trusted that he wanted to hear her. They started making time to share stories about their days, speak their desires and frustrations, share their deeper thoughts and ideas, and they started feeling the ignition of that “in love” feeling again.
Now that they could safely express their feelings, they no longer had heated arguments. They still may have conflicts but they can hear each other out with respect, affection, and even play 🙂
Do you feel safe to share your feelings, knowing that your partner will listen to you and you’ll both feel seen, understood, valued, and appreciated? If not, what fears do you think are in the way?
I invite you to share in the comments below. And if you want guidance and support in having the kind of breakthrough conversations that re-ignite love and passion for you and your partner, I invite you to apply for a free “Back to Love” Strategy Session with me, so we can get your relationship back to feeling In love.