There's a rather grim sounding but poignant song by Joy Division called "Love Will Tear Us Apart". One of the verses goes like this:
When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won't grow,
And we're changing our ways,
Taking different roads....
Love will tear us apart....
It's sadly poignant because there is so much truth in it. Love seems to very frequently "tear us apart" and most of us who have a few years under our belt, understand the lyrics. Routine does bite really hard into relationships and leaves visible teeth marks. The ambition to keep alive 'desire' (that once seemed effortless) dwindles. Resentments accumulate. The emotional connection gets lost... sometimes irretrievably. Our goals and values shift and change and we suddenly realize one day that we are traveling on a different road than (the person we thought was) our life partner.
Why is that and what can we do about it?
There are many threads in the torn tapestry of a love relationship. Things like having kids while trying to build a career in a culture that is more 'self-focused' and 'child-focused' and 'success-focused' than it is 'marriage-focused.' We have to be so intentional about maintaining a love partnership... but... well... in the beginning it doesn't feel as 'urgent' as some of the other things. In fact, it's kind of scary just how gradual and innocently the fabric gets little rips in it.
We might 'suddenly realize' that we have taken a different road than the person we 'loved', but it didn't happen suddenly. It happens, like most things, in tiny little increments. It is much like the story about the frog who gets boiled to death when the water heats up very slowly. If it was hot when he jumped in... he'd jump out instantly. Probably he'd sense it was hot and not jump in at all. But when it happens over time... when it feels 'just right' at first... then the changes in temperature are barely perceptible until it's too late.
So it's the little things. The times you get annoyed or hurt about something you believe your partner has said or done, but you "let it go" because "it's just a little thing." In fact, it would be great if you could "let it go" because it probably IS a little thing, but the truth is, we don't let it go. It gets registered in our brain and we come to some conclusions about the other person and we raise our inner guard. Sometimes this is unconscious. But we are always, always, looking out for our safety ...and feeling hurt or annoyed doesn't feel safe. And 'assumed conclusions' about the 'other' combined with our 'raised guard' just does not breed intimacy. It creates a small weak spot, a small tear in the fabric of your love. And soon resentments grow, desire dwindles and the emotional connection is gone.
Truly 'letting it go' is a wonderful relationship skill.... if we can do it. But it seems to take a great deal of practice, purpose and maturity in a relationship built on trust , forgiveness and openness. In the meantime, working towards small conversations to clear up small mis-understandings based on small assumptions to prevent the raising of small little shields... is a good thing. If we practice on the small things, it won't be like a landslide of pent up 'hostile hurt' when we do have the conversation. Done properly, it won't lead to a BIG THING if you want to have a small conversation about something that's bugging you.
If you can't do this, call me. I can help.