I used to feel crazy in love with my partner, and that motivated me to work through issues with him. But over the last few years, I don’t want to bother with the arguments as I don’t seem to care enough. I still love him, but I feel too exhausted to fight with him. My attitude is “Screw it, it doesn’t’ matter anyway!” How do I get enough energy back to actually do what I know I should do to fix this relationship?”
I know it’s difficult to face issues in a relationship, and it’s easier to avoid them, especially when issues often don’t actually get resolved and then just create more bad feelings. That crazy in-love feeling we have at the beginning of a relationship does usually diminish somewhat over time, and part of that is normal. But, leaving issues unresolved builds more and more resentment, which will eventually completely kill the “in-love” feeling altogether.
How it should work is that the crazy in-love feeling grows into a deeper kind of love over time as a couple is vulnerable with each other and works through their issues together. This gives each of you a better understanding of your mate, helping the deeper love grow. By avoiding the issues, however, this never happens and the relationship becomes stagnant and boring. Both people eventually become unhappy with their mate and themselves, damaging both partner’s self-esteem.
It sounds like this is where you are in your relationship, and that you are angry at yourself too for letting it happen. It’s hard not to be depressed in a situation like this. Depression, of course, takes all of your energy away and causes your “Screw it!” reaction.
Instead of avoiding your emotions, start by journaling your resentment and anger so you at least slow down your depression and/or numbness. Turn your self-anger outward on paper. Be sure that you journal in first person and to your partner, i.e. “I am angry at you for ……,” instead of talking “about” the issues or blaming yourself (that will keep you exhausted). Anger can energize you. It would be good to ask your partner to do the same exercise. Then you can both come together to negotiate. Both of you need to use my 4 Steps of Healthy Communication:
I feel _____when you_____.
I want _______.
Will you do this and this?
If not, I will _______.
The “If not, I will ____” part of my 4 steps needs to help you take some sort of action, whether it involves going out with friends when your mate won’t go with you or you deciding to leave the relationship.
Hopefully, this exercise will energize you, give you hope, and help the two of you create some healthy negotiations where you both give each other more of what the other wants. If your partner won’t cooperate with you, you can try to get him or her to join you in therapy, or seek therapy yourself to help motivate you to bring this to a head. If none of this works for you, you need to move on and leave the relationship to stop the downhill spiral you are in. For most people, once you get your frustrations out and start making deals, your energy comes back and you can build a healthier relationship for the future.
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