Laundry. Dishes. Kids' practices and rehearsals. Groceries. Oh, and don't forget the HOA.
Where is the romance, right?
Forget romance, where is the deeper connection?
When is the last time he asked me about my dreams or my fears?
Umm, when is the last time I asked him about anything other than a scheduling
conflict or a honey-do checklist.
When is the last time we touched each other out of sheer desire and not some
scheduled meeting of 2 busy adults?
When is the last time we laughed or cried together?
Am I the only one who feels alone more than I ever thought I would as a married person?
Truth is, NO. I am not alone in feeling alone!
I know this based on the countless conversations I have had
with my patients over the years. Marital disconnection literally sends people into
their primary care provider's office with symptoms of depression, fatigue, anxiety, and
sometimes even physical symptoms (nausea, rapid heart rate, the list goes on).
You know how our kids nag us on weekends "mom, mom, mom- watch me do this.
Look at this. I want to show you this."
Well, the truth is that we want the same thing from our spouse and they want it from us.
We just don't know how to express that need.
So we pout. We give the silent treatment. We build an invisible wall to avoid rejection.
And it is killing us.
One exercise my husband and I use is the FANOS method for couples communication.
It only takes a few minutes each day and it has been paramount in improving our daily conversations and overall understanding of each other. The way it works is that one partner goes through their FANOS while the other listens and does not comment. No fixing or feedback. Just active listening. Then it's the other partner's turn. There is a 24 hour rule on comments. Very important to honor the 24 hour rule.
The acronym is as follows:
Feelings: use an emotion word and tell your partner how you are feeling. Give a brief synopsis as to why you are feeling that way.
Acknowledgements: use this time to thank your partner for something he or she has done or is doing. This can be something you appreciate about them or an actual task.
Needs: Let your partner know something you need from them. THIS ONE is the one the other partner often wants to give feedback on or fix, BUT no commentary for 24 hours.
Ownership: Use this time to admit your screwups. Take ownership for that snarky comment or huffy attitude. This one has been so good for us!
Struggles / sobriety: Let your partner know about something you are working on either for yourself or in the relationship. This is so good for accountability and vulnerability in the relationship.
Quick caveat: the Needs section is the stickiest one for us. We have found that we don't want to list the same need over and over and make the other partner feel inadequate, so sometimes we list a need outside of the relationship. That may not be the proper way to FANOS, but it has worked for us and kept some pressure off.
I hope this technique gives you a starting point for your relationship to head towards
communication and understanding.
Feeling seen and heard is imperative for a relationship's success.
Not every day is going to be perfect. There WILL be bumps in the road.
But having a partner that you trust to show up for you and at least TRY to
hold space for you as you process difficult emotions is what matters most.