People at one point in a relationship never imagine that the unsaid issues will haunt them later on. They, we, all of us, just try to ignore the problems and go on. The popular phrase is ‘get over it’ or ‘move on’ but the real phrase is that it will come around and cannot be denied as it is important, whatever the issue. The damage to pushing things under the carpet cannot be minimized. It is to be taken seriously and at first signs addressed. Or, get help to learn to address the problems in communication, whether they seem shallow or deep-seated.
A couple came to my office with an issue going back 15 years. It related to how each interpreted the situation and both felt betrayed. They talked around it. First one and then the other brought up feelings. Each felt misunderstood or just not understood. Each was hurt, inconsolably it turned out.
Now, years later one wanted a divorce and the other agreed but hesitated. At issue was the power of their connection they both sensed and agreed upon that lay underneath it all. This connection had held them through these years of distress and when they came together made for a powerful bond. However, the rupture was equally powerful and now neither was sure they could or should repair the basic issues that they were used to ignoring. Life gets busy, someone has to go to the store, work, and assist the children with homework and so on. Life gets in the way of taking care of feelings and emotional reactions, or it can if both want to skirt the issue or do not know how to get into it.
So, they each asked what could they do now.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Sit down and talk together a few minutes each day. Be in a calm place, look at each other, cut down the distractions and be face to face.
2. Allow for the minutes together gradually increasing and being respectful when one or the other can go no further. Then make time to follow up and not drop the difficult topic.
3. Bring up some pleasant topics in the midst of the heavy ones.
4. Listen closely without defensiveness. It is a skill to learn to listen openly and without the guards up.