#1 Way To Overcome The Mental Distance
If you haven’t read our previous blog, you should go take a look before dabbling into this one.
Communication is still on top of mind, and we were exploring a scenario between a long-distance couple. The caller and the receiver were at odds with each other, and both did something wrong in the middle of their conversation.
Check out the scenario below if you need a quick reminder:
You and your partner have been dating for just over 6 months. The honeymoon phase of your relationship is just starting to die out. Things that used to seem easy and simple are becoming more and more challenging as the days go on. For example, you pick up the phone and begin video calling your partner. You start telling them about your day. Somewhere in the middle of the conversation, you notice that your partner’s interests seem to be low.
You look at your phone and see that they are partially listening to you while also working on something else on their computer. You get annoyed. You wanted them to pay attention to you, especially since the time you have on a video call is the only time you get to see each other. However, instead of voicing it out, you become quiet and start doing something else as well. A few minutes go by and your partner notices that you aren’t speaking. They ask “What’s wrong?”. You ignore them. Your partner says, “Look, I know you were talking but I told you a couple of days ago that I had a deadline for this assignment due today and that I really needed to do well on it. I thought you would understand.” Now you feel offended.
The last time we spoke, we discussed how listening effectively and being actively engaged with your partner will help to enforce healthy ties in your relationship. Moreover, we emphasized how “me” needs to turn into “we” and your partner should be considered as an extension of yourself. Their opinions and suggestions should hold an equal weight to you as your own. Let’s explore a second situation that follows this theme further:
You are married, have two kids and it has been ages since you and your partner have been able to hang out, let alone have a “date” night. You and your significant other are also separated by distance. Your partner’s job requires that they travel and are away from the household often. It wouldn’t be surprising if an anniversary or birthday was missed due to your partner’s hectic schedule. At first, this was manageable, even if your partner missed the actual date of your birthday, they would often surprise you thoroughly in the days just after. But then one day you notice something.
The kids were starting to grow up and become far more independent, your job was a soft dull that neither bothered you nor made you happy. It was boring. Finally, your birthday had passed, and your significant other has not said or done anything for a week. You start looking back and realize that you and your significant other spoke less and less. If it wasn’t about the kids, it was about work. Once those two topics were exhausted there was nothing left. You want something to change but you don’t know what the root problem is and or how to go about fixing it.
Can you relate to this situation? Even if you can’t to the specific details, there is a fundamental theme we are following. What do you do when you feel like you and your partner are growing distant and things seem too lackluster?
1) You create a plan where you will surprise your partner with a fancy date night
2) You try to call your partner during work to talk about it
3) You try to ignore the feelings for now and wait for your partner to come back when you will be able to discuss
4) You just completely ignore the issue and try to find a new hobby or something to do that will keep your interests
5) You call a friend and ask them what you should do
Which one would you go with?
Each of the answers had pros and cons but none seem to fully answer and correct the problem. These solutions are similar to if you had put a band-aid over your head when you have a headache. It’s just not good enough.
1) You could create a surprise event, in all honesty, showing your partner that you want to do something for them is a great thing. However, there is a problem in this scenario. You haven’t spoken to your significant other in a long time about anything outside of kids and work. When they come home what do they want to do? Relax? Go out? Sleep or go hiking? How would you create an event that is catered to them if you have no clue what they want?
2) This one is a complete no. Your partner is in the middle of work where they need to focus and pay full attention. Now is not the time for a discussion of your relationship issues.
3) This one really depends on the individual. Some people can wait and have no problem waiting. Other people grow impatient and can’t stand holding onto emotions instead of just solving them (I am one of these people). So waiting could work for you or it could not. Depends.
4) If you truly want to fix and improve your relationship, then this isn’t the solution for you either. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away.
5) This is a potential option but one that has to be carried out tastefully. Don’t put your relationship out for others to criticize and provide an opinion that they will later ask you about again. If you are going to ask a friend, let it be more discreet. For example, if you decided to throw a surprise party, you could ask your friend what theme you should go with or how you should go about it in order to collect ideas. But don’t ask them if you should or should not throw the party. That is your judgment to make and yours only.
All in all, what we would encourage is to write, voice record, type or use any form of written or verbal recording to express your feeling and to be completely honest at that moment. Don’t hold anything back. Now put the note or recording down for at least an hour or two if not a full day. Then come back to it. Re-read or re-listen. Make sure it says exactly how you feel and that you are satisfied with the result. If you are not satisfied, don’t get rid of the original version and instead make a copy of it, edit and fix it until you feel happy with the final product. Then set up a time to speak to your partner, ask them if they can allocate an hour or so to speak to you about something that’s been sitting on your mind. When that time comes, start the conversation by asking how they are, how their day has been, and what they are going through. Then open up about your mental journey and how you realize there has been some distance between you two and it is something you’d like to fix. Before the conversation ends let them read your note or listen to your recording. Ask them, when they are free, to write a note or a voice recording back. Give them time to think about it. From here, both you and your partner can decide what do to next.
This solution may not work for everyone, since every relationship is different and goes through different stages and cycles. However, the real message that we are trying to get across is that in order for you and your significant other to fix the relationship, you both have to be in the conversation. You can’t fix the relationship by yourself, therefore coming up and defining the solution by yourself isn’t the best. Your significant other’s opinions and thoughts should be involved in the process.
Finally, we mentioned the original version of your writing or recording. That is for you. Like a diary that you could look back to. You can notice important things about yourself and your thought process when you can look back at an authentic, non-edited version of yourself.
Communication is important for your relationship. However, it is equally important for your self-growth. Communicate with your future self by leaving recordings or writings of your present thoughts. Stay connected with your partner by being vulnerable and willing to meet them halfway when solving your problems. All in all, communication is key.