Ok I’ve been there. You have begun your healing and inevitably your therapist is challenging you about your relationship. My therapist pushed me for years on my unhappiness in my marriage before anything substantial happened. If you’re in a similar spot, knowing you want something to be different and perhaps hiding in your successful career to numb out the pain, then this blog is for you.
So as I sat looking at my content calendar for 2023 I tried to be really intentional about what content I want to share with my community. And here’s the thing. Most of y’all don’t need the steps on how to do a check-in on your relationship. For the most part what you, and a lot of overachieving, Type A women need, is a bit of a wake up call as to why you aren’t doing the thing you know you need to do.
Now ultimately, you will move in your own time because no one owns your process except you. However. If you’re ready to be shaken awake a bit then grab your notebook to take some notes (yes, I know you have one on hand somewhere near) and let’s take a closer look at why you’re avoiding this conversation with your spouse.
You are holding onto control.
Shoutout to all my fellow control freaks- hi I see you! Ah control. The leading lady that honestly never was. And it’s such a double edged sword, right? Because control is probably what has propelled us so far in our careers. We are disciplined (about work), we know how to meet deadlines, we sacrifice when we have to, and we are incredibly reliable. We know how to get the results we want and we pride ourselves on it.
Unfortunately, relationships don’t work this way. We can’t control what another person does (but we will def give it a go anyway!) or how they choose to show up for themselves or us.
If you know that you need to have a check-in with your partner but you’ve been putting it off there’s a really good chance that you are holding onto control to avoid hearing something you won’t like.
You aren’t emotionally available.
Something I hear from a lot of my clients is that their partners are distant and walled off. But here’s the kicker. Only emotionally unavailable people end up with other emotionally unavailable people. Birds of a feather flock together, y’all. Much to my sweet, arrogant, and prideful young 20s self’s dismay.
While we can believe that we are doing a much better job at everything/being in relationship, and yes there may be some variability, we are also usually hiding behind a prideful wall. Also, if you hold the belief that you are better than anyone else, you are going one up and therefore are engaging from a place of insecurity.
So before you pop off about how your spouse isn’t doing what you want them to do, I encourage you to get really honest about how available you are with them. When was the last time you cried in front of them? Are you able to share your deepest fears that lie underneath all of the feedback you have for them? When was the last time you allowed yourself to even do these things alone? This is a critical first step before moving toward your partner.
You aren’t prioritizing your relationship.
There’s a big difference between obsessing about your relationship and prioritizing it. For example, just because you are ruminating (aka having thoughts tumble through your head consistently) doesn’t mean you are actually writing out the steps you need to take to get the check in on the schedule. It also doesn’t mean that you are engaging in healthy self care to be at your best rather than relying on your relationship to make you feel better.
We absolutely cannot prioritize our relationship without first prioritizing ourself. And this takes a lot of discipline and work, y’all. Especially if you have children and/or busy careers and/or didn’t have healthy role modeling of what partnership looks like growing up.
Relationships take work. It takes work to utilize healthy communication and boundaries but it also takes work to care for our physical and emotional self so we can bring our best self to the table. Without this commitment you are relying on your relationship to make you better which is unfair and codependent.
There is also the other skillset which is learning that it’s critical to schedule a weekly check-in, date nights, and sex when we are busy. I hear a lot that the idea of scheduling these events takes the romance out of the relationship but let me tell you, for me, there’s nothing sexier than my husband prioritizing us enough to schedule a date night and to put it on the calendar. I hear that I’m wanted, valued, and cared for which is some real fabulous foreplay, y’all. So get curious about where your priorities currently are and whether they are serving you and your relationship.
You don’t know what you want or need.
Last but not least, you may not actually know what you want or need. This is a biggie that I hear from clients all the time. They tend to know what they don’t want in a relationship and really struggle to know what they do want. This is extra complicated if you have developmental trauma and have never seen a healthy relationship before.
For wants, I usually encourage my clients to get curious about their own personality. Are you someone who likes adventure? Is it important to you to be able to book a flight to Paris at the drop of a hat? Or do you love finding old book stores? Or maybe you’re huge into sports and would love to share that with a partner.
On the flip side, where wants are pretty individualized, healthy needs in a relationship tend to be a little more universal. A healthy partnership will benefit from having someone who has knowledge of their family of origin trauma and dynamics and knows/is working to understand how this effects them in relationships. They will benefit from engaging in healthy “adulting” (aka, budgeting, working out, can balance going out with friends with staying in and chilling, goes to the doctor regularly). Having a partner who respects your boundaries and validates your reality, while being able to respectfully challenge you is also imperative.
So if, after reading this list, you are resonating a bit (or maybe a lot) then it’s time to do some reflecting and then sharing with your partner. If some or all of this list has resonated with you, changes are, it’s going to resonate with your partner. You aren’t in this alone and this could be a first step toward building more emotionally intimacy into your relationship. Perhaps you both want to explore individual therapy or even couples work to begin this work. The most important thing is to just take the first step forward. All you need is one step at a time.
If you find yourself wanting to explore individual therapy and it feels like we may be a good fit, feel free to reach out for a consultation and we can go from there. We will either get something on the books or I’ll provide other referrals that are a better fit for your needs.
What do you think? Anything here resonating? I would love to hear from you in the comments!