Don’t Despair-Repair Your Relationship

Individuals who no longer experience the reciprocity of thoughts, feelings and emotional connection with their mates often conclude that their partner has changed, their union has become flawed or permanently damaged, and their original love has faded. These internal messages create deep disappointment, loss, sadness, grief and sorrow and foster a needless state of resignation or even despair.

Couples’ initial euphoria is bound to subside and change with time. The early intense infatuation, elation and high arousal states are unsustainable in the long run. That is not to say that the passion, admiration and enthusiasm about one’s “better half” is lost. It has just evolved into a new deep, committed and devoted state of intimacy that is less acutely intense and may need to be improved.

In “The Developing Mind” Daniel J. Siegel, MD, A Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine at UCLA describes couple bonding as, “We come to ‘resonate’ with the other person, and two “me’s” become a “we.” He expounds on how “The physical proximity of one individual to another and their touch shape the electrical activity in each individual’s brain.” And, “Words, nonverbal behaviors, tone of voice, gestures and timing of responses activate the neural circuits of the brain that mediate the receiver’s emotional response.” This is how “Two differentiated individuals can become a part of a resonating whole. This is an interpersonal integration.” Dr. Siegel also suggests that couples’ ability to “Track”, “Align” and “Resonate” with each other enhances their connection.

The feelings of frustration, alienation and isolation within their relationship occur when one or both partners perceive a reduction in enthusiasm and the onset of detachment by the other. Many unhappy individuals assume that their partner no longer cares enough to expend energy to listen, make accommodations or attempt to please them, which is believed to be the product of the mate’s cessation of love and affection.

The personal hurt one feels with the presumption of having lost the beloved’s esteem or admiration may prompt the “dejected” partner to withdraw from the “disenchanted” mate. This state leaves both partners lacking as their individual self-esteem plummets and doubts about their union are born.

Some mates attempt to inquire about the change in their couple connection but often only after they have withdrawn from each other and their relationship has been weakened by both of them. The realization that they need help from a professional often comes after needless periods of isolation, doubt and even despair.

Don’t despair – repair your union:

  • State your love for your mate and your wish for an improved connection.
  • Acknowledge your less than rewarding relationship and admit your part in it.
  • Ask how your mate feels about your union. Say, “What can I say, do or change to be a better spouse to you?”
  • Accept your mate’s perspective. Avoid defensiveness, accusations or “evening the score”.
  • Agree to make changes you feel you can sincerely attempt.
  • Affirm your love for your mate and your marriage.



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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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