Saving your relationship is always worth the effort — if you have a clear enough fix on exactly how to better your relationship.
A few days ago, a reader emailed asking me if I thought there is hope for her relationship. Could she repair the relationship with her boyfriend whom she hoped to marry? Sarita (not her real name) wrote the following, and my response follows:
I really enjoyed your article about trusting and giving space in relationships. I’m so glad I found it, as it is very relevant to me right now. Here are some details about my relationship background:
- This October my boyfriend and I will be in a relationship for 5 years
- We had lived together for 2 years, but this January we (primarily he) decided to move apart. He felt the need for more space
- Since we quit living together as a couple, I feel that this space apart from one another was what we really needed
- We always seemed to have an issue with communication and having “talks.” This past weekend when we talked though, he still feels like I don’t really give him space, but I felt good because for the first time in a long time we both listened — and he didn’t shut down on me
This is cause for hope, yes? But giving him this space though, is this going to be an ongoing thing, or will he grow out of the feeling of wanting this space? I admit, I lose myself in my relationship. When things are uncertain I feel unstable, like I’m going to lose everything.
Is their hope for my relationship that will lead to marriage? Or are we beating a dead horse?
Five years together in relationship is a long time. It deserves your repect and your emotional sweat. Kudos to you for taking this action to fix your relationship.
The key to how to make your relationship better with your boyfriend is good communication. Genuine communication is essential if you want a real relationship. Talking with each other is not necessarily communicating. Truly communicating, will cement your relationship and deepen your understanding and appreciation of one another.
Sarita, it almost seems too simple, but there is nothing more important than having daily conversations with your partner. Any conversation is better than none, but talking with each other about things that excite or inspire you, deepens your relationship big-time.
Some guys get defensive if a woman suggests that they should open up and have a meaningful conversation. But if you just spend regular time together, over a coffee perhaps, and just connect comfortably in ways that raise your spirit, you will be on the right track. Talk about what is exciting you right now, or what you feel deeply about, something that makes you feel good, that he can connect with also. Ditch the boring chit chat about who annoyed you at work today, or the idiot driver who cut you off yesterday.
Keep your conversations sacred in the sense that they should express things that speak to your individual spirits. Whatever it is about your spirit and his spirit that is essential to your mutual attraction — nurture that in your daily conversations. If you do this, those talks will lead to actions that strengthen your essential connection, and actions are the prime driving force in this world.
You also asked about his need for space. Space is something that every couple should give and receive — always. The space I refer to is not a temporary disconnection. It is an ongoing respect for each other’s individual psyche, emotions, goals, and interests.
Giving space to your boyfriend — and claiming your own space — requires trust in your relationship. At the very least it calls you to trust in yourself; that you are fine no matter what. When a couple is on the same page in this way, they allow one another space to grow as individuals instead of, “as my Girlfriend,” or “as my Boyfriend.”
Part of the joy in relationship is seeing your partner grow stronger and more fulfilled. Seeing your partner become dependent and compliant, or in charge and dominating, is not at all joyful. Sadly though, a large percentage of couples adopt a dominant/submissive pattern where neither of them has any chance of becoming truly fulfilled. They are both completely dependent on the other for their individual roles, and so neither one can have a free spirit.
Have you read my article on mending a marriage? Somewhere in that one I talk about the value of daily conversations. Sarita, I think there is much hope for your relationship, but you must be honest with yourself about how you relate. Ask yourself if you are in love or in need. Big difference between the two. If you are really in love with this man because you deeply connect to his essential nature, then begin to move your communications to a level that support and feed that core connection.
I hope that helps.