In Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-known work, The Five Love Languages, he discusses the ways in which partners give, receive, and experience love. The book also addresses how we perceive love in relationship, and how we can actively work towards knowing what our partner wishes for in turn, and take steps to increase understanding, mutuality, and intimacy.
Oftentimes, one partner might process internally or innately need more time alone, while the other may be searching for more constant connection. Do you find that you desire for your significant other to reach out to you more? If this hope is unmet, do you find yourself feeling neglected and subsequently, angry or resentful.
When left to fester, anger and resentment come out in sometimes seemingly unrelated ways. You might find yourself making points more vehemently during an argument so that you feel heard and acknowledged. Maybe you use your voice more loudly, or dominate the conversation without listening to the response of your partner.
Despite craving togetherness and being sought after, you might even withdraw and not even feel like interacting with your significant other. It can be very painful to love someone so much, but purposefully avoid connection because, well, to be honest you would love for your partner to come after you for once.
Over time every little thing can feel like a slight, or remind you of how much you want to be understood and cared for. While feelings of vulnerability and rawness can run deep, please know that there are ways of disrupting this pattern.
What can you do to find some relief?
Notice at the first sign when you are becoming upset. Is your heart rate starting to increase? Are you feeling a sense of tunnel vision? Where are your emotions showing up in your body?
When tension and disappointment begin to mount, think about what you are truly needing from your partner, try to slow yourself down by taking two to three deep belly breaths.
Reflect on what is making you angry. Ask yourself some questions. What might calm you down? What do you desire from your significant other in this situation? Act as soon as you can to give your partner a heads up about what is happening for you.
Take a Leadership Role. As an equal individual in your relationship, you have every right to be honest about what you are wanting and needing. Your partner might need some direction from you about what true connection feels like to you, so try to be as specific as possible.
Tell your partner you want to genuinely feel their presence and engagement. Whether it is asking for thoughtful listening to something that you want to say, taking some uninterrupted one-to-one time together, or simply asking for validation of your feelings, remember you have a mutual investment in your relationship. Show up proactively and speak on your own behalf so that the situation doesn’t snowball.
Seek deeper understanding of your Partner. One of the first steps towards healing when you are feeling angry and frustrated, is to remember that your significant other is likely different than you. Your partner may prefer to function more autonomously or be unaware of just how much more you would love to connect.
Know your partner, and seek to understand with compassion why they need time to process the ins and outs of life in a space uninterrupted by others. Reflect on the ways that they do show you love and talk together about how they can reach out more often to show you loving care in a way that feels meaningful.