"We can't communicate."
"We can't connect."
"We never make love anymore."
I hear these complaints over and over from the couples I work with. Interestingly, all of them come from the same underlying cause: self-abandonment and the controlling relationship system that inevitably results from self-abandonment.
Here's why abandoning yourself rather than loving yourself causes so many problems:
When you abandon yourself—by ignoring your feelings, judging yourself, numbing out with addictions, or making someone else responsible for your feelings—you feel alone, empty, and rejected inside. That's when you're likely to focus on what your partner is doing to make you feel this way rather than going inside to discover how you are rejecting yourself.
Here's why you can't communicate with your partner:
When you want to communicate with your partner, why do you want to communicate? If you have been abandoning yourself, then you likely want to "communicate" to get your partner to change and give to you the attention and validation that you are not giving yourself. Your partner probably knows that this is why you want to talk, and he or she may shut down and withdraw from you or get angry with you.
You will not be able to communicate with your partner when your intent is to get him or her to change rather than to learn and grow with each other.
Here's why you can't connect with your partner (and why you rarely make love):
When you are abandoning yourself, you're disconnected from yourself. You can't expect to be able to connect with your partner when you are disconnected from yourself. And it's hard to want to make love when you feel disconnected from yourself and your partner.
Another reason for not making love is that, when the relationship system is a pull-resist system (i.e., one of you is pulling for sex as a form of control to get the attention and validation you are not giving to yourself, and the other feels demanded of and made responsible for the demanding partner's feelings), there is resistance to being controlled by the needy partner. Loving sexuality results from partners feeling safe and connected with each other, not from neediness, anger, demands, withdrawal, or resistance.
Loving yourself rather than abandoning yourself can heal your relationship:
When you learn how to take loving responsibility for your feelings, self-worth, and safety, and to learn from your feelings rather than ignore them, then you are no longer desperate for your partner to make you feel loved, worthy, or secure. By learning to love yourself, you become filled with love to share with your partner. Instead of trying to get love from your partner, you desire to communicate, connect, and make love with your partner to share the love that is already within you.
Learning to love yourself is the most important thing you can do to improve your relationship. As you learn to be compassionate with yourself rather than judgmental, you will find that it's easy to be compassionate rather than judgmental with your partner. When you learn to be kind to yourself, you will find that you are naturally kind to your partner. When you learn to listen to yourself, you will find it easy to listen to your partner.
Instead of trying to get your partner to change, why not change the person you can—you? And why not start today? You might be surprised by what happens.