You and your partner walk by one another without so much as a word spoken, and the thought of touching or caressing each other is as far from your desires as the moon.
You may have been living in separate rooms, and divorce may not have been mentioned, but the thought of it is almost a constant in each other’s mental universe. Emotionally, the two of you are in a negative feedback loop, and if you don’t break it, it may well cause a breakup.
When discord is ever present in a relationship, there is little room for enjoying life together. The resentment can be so thick that everyone else notices. Friends may even try to avoid you because they don’t want to get caught up in the emotional destruction derby.
Many people see negative behaviors and bad vibes as something to steer away from, and you may be feeling exactly the same way.
One thing is certain: Action must be taken if you want to save the relationship.
To begin the process, you must both get out of denial mode and admit to each other that a problem exists. You will have to put your differences aside so that you can, at the very least, begin to talk about what’s been going on.
Breaking out of this negative pattern will require a new game plan. Maybe it’s time to see a counselor. Perhaps an apology — or a lot more than one apology — needs to be made. It could all have started with one really big misunderstanding. You can’t fix something unless you know what’s broken.
Identifying the beginning of your relationship’s downward spiral can be enlightening, but you also have to heal the pain that has occurred as a result. You can begin the healing process by being kinder to each other. This can be as little as saying hello when your partner comes through the door.
The point is to try to acknowledge each other in a friendly way whenever you’re together. There’s nothing worse than living with someone who is putting out anger and venom when you’re around. Most people feel it but don’t truly understand what’s beneath the hostility.
Admittedly, things can get pretty confusing if this dynamic has been happening for a long time. As a couple, your best course of action is to agree that you have both been disagreeable for a while now and that the time has come to drop your resentments and start afresh. This is an excellent exercise for all couples.
Lastly, you should remind each other of your commitment to healing the relationship. Promise one another that you are going to work through the misery and that you will use warmth and kindness as you work on making things better between the two of you.
Working things out may not be as simple as it sounds. In fact, you can count on this project requiring some consistent effort.
The worthwhile reward will be having your relationship back on a positive track and ready to move forward again.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including “Visualization For Success — 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Sundays and Wednesdays in the News-Press Life section.