In every relationship, disconnection happens. While it may be normal, it isn’t healthy. When disconnection seeps into a relationship, what we do with it matters most.
Like a slow leak, when left to its own devices, disconnection can cause severe damage over time. And if we wait for the flood, we’re sometimes too late to the scene. When couples enter my office in complete crisis, with their marriages and relationships on the brink, I often discover disconnecting patterns that started early in the relationship. For years, they either didn’t notice the slow leak or they had no idea how to talk about it or what to do with it.
It’s important to understand that as social human beings, we are wired to be in relationships. And more so, we are wired to be in relationships where we can depend and need others. We weren’t made to be isolated and solely independent beings. Being on our own causes illness, disease, depression and anxieties. So, when disconnection shows up in your relationship, it’s imperative you know what to do next.
Tune into the red flags of disconnection. It might be less time spent together, increasing conflict, less physical touch or perpetuating silence when you’re in the same room. Red flags vary for each relationship.
But there are common feelings that signal disconnect. It’s usually a ping of loneliness, feelings of misunderstanding and questioning whether you truly matter to your mate.
Close the Gap
When disconnection shows up, a common response is to wait and avoid. And nothing could be more damaging! This is when that slow leak starts to wreak havoc. The sooner disconnection is addressed the better. Yes, we all need moments to pause or step away when things get heated. But learning how to come together ASAP to repair and close the gap is critical. Face and trust your feelings of disconnection. Then courageously go towards your partner to tell them what you’re noticing. Most importantly, let your partner know that you’re seeking to reconnect and that you’re not looking to place blame or attack.
If you and your partner can make it a regular habit to check in on your connection, you’re well on your way to having a strong, secure relationship. Begin being purposeful in asking not just “How are you?” but asking “How connected do you feel with me? Have I been showing up for you?” These are emotionally intimate questions and conversations. At first, they may feel awkward or strange. That’s ok.
Because moving into discomfort is how we grow in relationships. Take the risk! And you’ll soon find the reward.
I would love to hear from you! Send me note with your burning relationship questions. vailrelationshipinstitute.com
Photo courtesy of Kim Fuller.
Jessica Heaney, LCSW, is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist based in Vail, CO. She is the founder of the Vail Relationship Institute where she and her team of clinicians specialize in healing relationships through counseling, training and events. Jessica is a dog lover and mountain explorer. Learn more about her and her work at vailrelationshipinstitute.com.