You feel like you are speaking a different language with your partner.
Your partner doesn’t acknowledge you for doing things around the house and you feel disappointed.
Your significant other says I love you all the time but never helps you with anything.
When you spend time together, you feel ignored when your partner is not really there with you. He/She is too busy checking their emails on their phone, watching TV or simply multi-taking.
The truth is you don’t feel loved.
And what you long for is to develop a greater relationship with your partner.
If this describes you don’t fret:
1. Define Love
The family and culture we are born into is out of our hands. And often, our ideals of love and relationships are based on how we were raised, the environment we grew up in and what we have been exposed to in the media and our social environment.
We create our own set of beliefs of what constitutes love and go about expressing love for others the way we perceive it. We forget we may not share the same ideals. This tends to be more apparent once the honeymoon stage is over. We may start to discover we define love and express it differently.
For some hearing the words ‘I love you’ and physical touch is enough. For others like myself, when it comes to romantic love I really feel loved when the guy I’m with is attentive and thoughtful, following through on his word, carrying out something he said he was going to do.
Dr. Gary Chapman talks about five basic ways to express love emotionally. And if we want someone to feel loved, we need to learn the primary love language they speak. The 5 love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
So what does love mean to you? What makes you feel loved?
2. Practice Deep Emotional Listening
When your partner is angry or upset and is expressing their negative feelings, listen and be attentive to the emotions they are expressing. Often it is easy to get defensive and start justifying the circumstance from your perspective, which can escalate into conflict.
Next time try active listening. Instead of needing to get your words in, let the other person finish their rant and pay attention to the emotion they are feeling.
Once they have completed their rant, guess their emotions.
i.e. You are Angry. You are upset. And that make you feel like you are not heard. You feel like you are not loved.
You’ll be amazed by how this simple technique co-developed by Doug Noll, a full time peacemaker, can diffuse and de-escalate the emotions between you and your partner.
3. Create opportunities for feedback.
We all crave to be heard. And when we engage in empathetic listening, we encourage each other to be more vulnerable and to speak candidly about what is on our minds.
As we practice listening without judgment, we become more receptive to seeing the situation from someone else’s perspective as feedback vs. criticism.
Instead of trying to defend and talk over each other, invite your partner to help you understand what they are seeing. Ask your partner, what am I not seeing here? Help me see why you see things the way you see it, as Rob Bell and his wife discussed with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday.
4. Checking in
From time to time check-in with your partner. Try asking on a scale of 1-10, what kind of partner was I this week, month? And what made it a (insert number)? How could have been a 10?
This may seem counterintuitive at first because you are opening the door to an uncomfortable conversation. But ignoring your feelings and letting it bottle up inside of you will only make matters worse.
Like a boiling pot of hot water, you don’t want to keep the lid on because sooner or later the water will spill out uncontrollably, as will the negative emotions you’ve kept bottling inside of you.
To strengthen your connection, awareness and trust in each other it’s important to start ‘checking in’ and stop ‘chickening’ out when it comes to sharing your feelings.
‘Checking in’ alleviates the need for you to be a mind reader. It allows both you and your partner to speak openly and honestly about something that may have bothered you earlier in the week so that any issues or misunderstandings can be cleared and resolved. Naturally, you and your partner may want to set some ground rules together to create a safe space to talk openly.
We are all capable of being better communicators and lovers. So embrace learning each other’s language of love and perspectives. It will not only help you and your lover grow, you will show up being a better version of yourself and for each other.
Also by Theresa: 6 Tips to Staying Emotionally Balanced
More relationship advice: How Partner Yoga Helped Rekindle Our Marriage
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Photo: Bùi Linh Ngân via Flickr