It can be hard to communicate with a partner who is emotionally distant. With all the events that are going on in the world right now, it can be hard to open up about one’s own feelings. If you want to repair your relationship and try to get your partner to open up a little more, read on.
Catherine Aponte Psy.D. lets readers know that historically, men are not encouraged to show their emotions and reflect on themselves. It is important to let your partner know that they have a safe space to open up to you about their feelings. Aponte advises that there are three phases to talking to a resistant partner:
Phase 1: Your Own Personal Reaction
There may be some resentments or fears that may be clouding your judgment. If you have any resentments or insecurities, talk to a loved one and work out those feelings.
Phase 2: Inform, Do Not Confront
No one wants to be aggressively confronted out of the blue one night. While you are noticing the distance that has been created, note that your partner might not even know that they are exhibiting these distant behaviors. Seek to inform, not belittle.
Aponte also advises to not address or inform your spouse when you are in an argument with them. Choose a time to sit down when both of your heads are clear and tell them the situation and how it made you feel. She also recommends setting clear boundaries.
Phase 3: If It Does Not Work
If your partner is still distant and does not care about your feelings even after you’ve made them clear to him, it may be time to take a good look at the relationship.
Some things that you can do to focus on yourself and enhancing your life:
- Get more invested in your work.
- Do things you enjoy (going to the movies, out to dinner, playing cards, etc.) with friends.
- Do more things with your extended family.
- Prepare yourself for the possibility that your spouse will leave the marriage.
- Seek personal counseling.
Doing a fun activity together once a week
Anahid Lisa Derbabian, LPC, MA, NCC suggests doing a fun activity at least once a week to that is open to emotional sharing, such as “going for a hike, walking your dog, playing ping-pong, while sharing together. Have [them] initiate a feeling or a meaningful topic while you both are snuggling on the couch or in bed, [or] ask [them] to respond with words and emotion to your sharing.”
Seek to understand not to be understood
Sometimes, we can get caught up in what we are trying to say and get the other person to listen. But in any relationship, especially that with a resistant partner, you must seek to understand.
“Resist the temptation to explain or justify your position or feelings and seek primarily to understand rather than to be understood. The time for that will come after your partner feels heard and understood,” says Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW.
While we may want to get our point across, it’s important to note that you want to be open and willing to talk. By stifling and trying to justify your position may prevent your partner from opening up in the future. “Speak in ways that promote trust, respect, safety, and openness,” Linda and Charlie Bloom.