“How did we get this far apart?
We used to be so close together
How did we get this far apart?
I thought this love would last forever”
The Cure – Apart
A lovely couple came to see me for marriage counseling last week.
And it quickly became obvious that when they first met they had plenty of what Terry Real calls: Face to Face Energy.
Face-to-face energy is where you and your partner are so into each other you make those around you feel ill. You listen deeply to what your partner has to say, when you’re not with them you can’t stop thinking about them and when you’re together it feels safe, stimulating, and sexy.
And that’s how most relationships start.
But then gradually – over time – face-to-face energy gets replaced with side by side energy.
Simple answer: Life.
Because you and your loved one have decided to commit to each other you’re now busy building a life together. Which usually involves things like:
- Setting up a home
- Having children
- Trying to bring enough money into your home
And the business of building a life together comes at you hard.
So hard, so fast and so relentless that sharing intimacy and time focused on each other now becomes something to do at the bottom of an infinite ‘To Do List’.
And so, many couples who were once so in love and wrapped up in each other become increasingly separate and apart. Eventually, wondering:
“What on earth happened to us?”
Over time, so many couples drift apart, fall out of love and talk about divorce or separation.
It’s very common…
…And very sad.
Sad, because in most cases this kind of relationship pain could’ve been avoided altogether with the adoption of some simple tools.
My first goal when I work with a couple like this is to help them reconnect with that Face to Face energy they once had, that spark that got lost whilst building a life together, and all the connection-draining activities that usually go with it.
Fortunately, I have the tools and the experience to help couples succeed with this work.
Now I could wrap up this blog post by saying something like:
And if you’d like me to help you and your wife reconnect and get some of that Face to Face energy back that you used to have so much of…
But as I write this, I’m reminded of one of my favourite films: The War of The Roses.
You should watch it.
It’s an extreme example of what happens when a couple loses their loving connection to each other.
Let me explain…
“This is the story we’ll tell our grandchildren”
At the start we see Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) getting together as a result of her missing her ferry home. They end up spending the night together and are clearly very much in love with each other.
Starting a life together
Kathleen: “Are you happy?”
Oliver: “I’m way past happy… I’m Married!”
Oliver and Barbara are married and living in a small apartment with their two young children. Barbara is working part-time and Oliver is working towards becoming a lawyer.
Barbara comes home on Christmas eve and takes Oliver out for a walk, she’s bought him a classic car for Christmas.
10 Years on – Cracks in the connection
“Oliver… was definitely moving up in the world. He’d only been with the firm six months when he decided to have the senior partners over to his new apartment for dinner. He had his eyes on the future.
The Divorce Lawyer
In this uncomfortable scene, you get to watch how Oliver makes Barbara feel inferior by interrupting a story she is telling at the dinner table. You get to see Barbara focusing on Oliver’s annoying laugh.
Trouble is, Oliver is so busy sucking up to his bosses – on building for the future – he doesn’t notice the impact his behaviour is having on his wife.
In bed that evening Barbara and Oliver have an argument. The good news is, Oliver makes an attempt to repair the situation and Barbara accepts.
It goes like this:
Oliver: “I hope they didn’t notice what a jerk I am.”
Barbara: “They didn’t seem to notice.”
And they both laugh.
The Beginning of The End
Barbara: “Where are you going?”
Oliver: “To work, I wish I didn’t have to but someone’s got to pay for all this.”
Barbara is left to set up the house whilst Oliver continues to climb the greasy pole of promotion.
Now the loving connection between Barbara and Oliver is stretched until it breaks.
The kids leave home, Barbara and Oliver become more and more distant, and there’s a lack of appreciation and attention. There’s hostility, bad behaviour, and resentments on both sides.
And there are a lot more arguments, but now no one’s making an attempt to repair after them.
For the most part, Oliver is completely oblivious of what harm all this is doing to the marriage…
…Until it’s too late.
“Go home and try to find some shred of what you once loved about the sweetheart of your youth…” – The Divorce Lawyer
Now then, I like to think that if the Rose’s had come to see me within the first 16 years of their marriage I could have helped them.
But after that…
…In the film, you can see that the spark of desire, of love Barbara once had for Oliver has completely gone out.
And I got to tell ya, once that spark is extinguished, it can’t be fixed.
But if there’s the least glimmer of a flame in both partners, then there is hope and I can work with that.
If the content of this blog post strikes a chord with you and you’d like to work on rebuilding the connection between you and your wife or getting some of that Face to Face energy back with your husband…
Then you can schedule an appointment for couples counselling here:
Please do it now before it’s too late.