Life can be fast and furious! Filled with the most amazing experiences, heart wrenching moments that can take your breath away, and day to day hustle! In the middle of it all, are moments to connect to where we find individual purpose, enjoyment, and those things we call our own. Married or single, as we grow older, life transitions and experiences recreate our person, and our partnerships with others.
What happens that one morning when you wake up feeling disconnected. Disconnected from yourself, your environment, and even your partner. I have clients tell me, ” I found myself connected to my children, what they were doing moment to moment, how I could fulfill their needs, and the needs of their school community and extra-curricular activities, however at the end of the day as I laid my head, I thought… who is this person next to me, and who am I? ” As a therapist, working with couples, I should know how to do this, and know how to do it well, right? Wrong. And that is what I say to those I work with. We are all human, and the disconnect that occurs in the middle of relationships, marriage, children growing up, work, and working to make time for others, the “I,” and “We,” we once did really well, gets lost. Whose fault is this? No ones! It’s the middle of life, the hard part, where each and every one of us works hard to keep our head up as high as we can, and just keep charging the mountain. The mountain of many obligations, emotions, and activities, and those days of “let’s go to dinner,” turn into days ending, asleep on the couch as soon as the kids are finally in bed. It’s the time in life where as women and men, we long to reconnect to our individual self and interests, and reasons why we chose each other, but in all reality, this may be the last on the list of “to dos.”
We as human beings are built to be a pair, we are supposed to connect with another, we are supposed to find a partner, to experience life with whatever that may bring, and be able to connect in a way that feels unconditional and supported. This is not reality, however and the “supposed to,” we were fed or not fed while growing up, turns into a tedious task, a checklist at times added to the day to day. The reminder, I am an individual first!!
I sit across from my clients, and ask, “what brought you together,” “What were the turning points.” And “where do you want to be …” This is a loaded question because it takes thought, reminiscing, and being present, and all those pieces take time, energy, and emotion. “And how can I answer that when I don’t have time for any of those things.”
We were all someone pretty amazing as individuals, and partnering with another was “suppose,” to make me, us even more amazing. The part we forget, however is the most important part, the part that if we really acknowledge it, feels selfish and unproductive. Who am I? and where do I start?
Communication! Communication is something most of us think we do well, and when it comes down to it, we are doing the bare minimum, the basic interaction or conversation to check in. How was your day? How are the kids? What’s for dinner? We begin to lose track of the purposeful moments, and the deep, effective communication that allows us to not only check in with ourselves, but with our partner, and in a way that engages emotion, being in the present, and creating intimacy with not only ourselves but those we want so much to feel connected to. When is the last time you sat across from your partner, and really talked about what you wanted, who you were, who “we are?” and how you have not only changed as individuals over time, but as a couple without talking about kids, work, and meal planning. It’s difficult, and may feel uncomfortable, but it is so important for connection and growth. You were an “I,” before you were a “we,” and taking time to acknowledge when there is more space than you would like, is not only beneficial, it is essential. When was the last time, you looked in the mirror at yourself, and asked “who am I now, this amazing person I have lost for a bit, but am working to effectively communicate needs, wishes, and wants to, in a way that uplifts me first, to be the best me I can be in a partnership and family. To truly be present, and effectively communicate the things that connect, reconnect, and create ongoing growth, one needs to take time to be still in the discomfort of change, and open to taking a risk that I, we are different. Taking the time to stop and acknowledge how communication, reflection, and being in the moment, the here and now can turn those questions into answers for a renewed self, a renewed “we.”