Written by Palika Trudeau, M.A. in Psychology and Alain Trudeau
Question: A few of my good friends just got divorced. When asked if I saw it coming, I said “NO.” Each one was truly shocking. It makes me look at my own relationship. On the outside it looks pretty good, but internally, I know we feel a lot of frustration and avoid each other. At times, I’m worried that we don’t have much more than the kids keeping us together. How do we keep from becoming another separation?
Answer: Great question! Breakups can shake up those around them and generate questions like, “What happened? They looked so good together, how did they go so wrong so fast?” And most concerning, “Will that happen to me?”
The fact is that all of the frustrations leading to that departure were slowly brewing for quite some time. Taking these tragic eye openers as an opportunity to improve your situation is very wise. Self-awareness is a valuable skill that prevents a lot of suffering when you combine it with the right actions in a timely manner.
It’s a dangerous thing when a couple stops relating in a fulfilling adult way, forfeiting their needs for connection and intimacy by centering their lives and interactions primary around the children. Soon couples find ways to conveniently avoid each other, making the prospect of being alone when the children grow up quite daunting. And the longer this poor relationship pattern is in play, the harder it feels to break through and reconnect on a romantic level.
Although it’s very true that children can keep a couple together, it’s not enough to rely upon for the long term. If your relationship has gotten to a point where the kids are the glue, then now is the best time to assess the situation and take appropriate actions to strengthen your relationship’s core.
So let’s start with the assessment part: Ask your self some important questions.
Do you respect your partner?
Do you feel respected by your partner?
Do trust them?
Do you feel emotionally connected?
Do you feel safe?
Can you communicate well?
Are you living like roommates?
Do you avoid spending time together?
Do you feel taken for granted?
Are there emotional walls up?
If you answer no to any of the first six questions or yes to the last four, then chances are neither of you will be fully satisfied in this relationship in the long term. Preventative corrections should begin now.
The next step is to deeply consider why this lacking exists:
Is there healing that needs to take place?
Are there behaviors that make you feel unsafe?
How do you speak and communicate together?
Are your values and lifestyles compatible?
What is out of integrity?
The final consideration is what actions to take. Here are a few to consider:
Create a space to talk about your challenges, needs and hopes—with the mood of finding solutions.
Make emotional connection a top priority.
Find authentic ways to reestablish trust.
Learn better communication skills.
Share affection and appreciation for one another so each can feel valued as a man/ woman.
Get professional support to help you heal old pain and move forward together.
Go on regular dates and spend enjoyable time together.
Although some people simply are not compatible because their values, energies, or lifestyles, others just have poor love maintenance skills and unsatisfying relationship habits that ultimately knock their marriage over. If you want a lasting connection, take your power back by authentically strengthening your relationship so it can outlive all the tests of time.