Q: These past few years have taken a toll on my marriage. Being home with my family has been really stressful. When I tried to talk to my husband about how this extra stress is affecting our relationship he was frustrated with me. I decided not to bring it up anymore. Now I feel like there is nothing between us. He is always working or on his phone. I can’t bear it anymore. I’m so sad and I don’t know how to make it better.
A: I can hear how very sad this is for you. It makes sense that being stuck in the house with all the extra worry and extra responsibility would put more stress on a relationship. When we turn to our partner and don’t feel heard it feels devastating. It makes sense that you may decide not to share your feelings any more. However, it sounds like shutting down communication has made things worse. Emotionally Focused Couples’ Therapist Betsy Tseronis, LCPC says, “The first step is to sit down with your partner when there are no distractions and tell him about what the stress is doing to you. We need to be brave enough to risk being vulnerable. By doing so we pull people in, rather than push them away.” It could sound like, “I miss connecting with you and I’m feeling stressed from living on top of each-other over the last two years. I need to talk about it.” Opposed to putting our partner in a position to defend their behavior, “You are always working or on your phone. You never make time for me.” Reaching out and communicating from a place of our need will help our partner hear us more clearly. If you continue to struggle, reach out to a trained couples’ therapist to help facilitate communication.