Over time, issues can build up in a relationship, especially if there has been no repair. The more you try to let things go, move forward, get over it, etc., the more the pile of hurt builds between you, ultimately becoming a barrier you have no choice but to address. By that time, the pile is usually quite high, and takes time, effort and commitment to heal and move forward.
It’s better to deal with issues as they arise, but if you haven’t learned how to do that, you’re likely doing the best you can with what inner resources you have. Trying to get over it and move on makes sense, but ultimately doesn’t work. Your feelings are valid, and you can’t make them go away by telling yourself to get over it. It would be nice if we had that control, but we don’t. We have to validate our emotions, use them to guide us, and work through them with both ourselves individually and with our partners. Each time you tell yourself to get over something, or let it go, you’re invalidating your emotions. Even if you have the best of intentions, the impact of invalidating your emotions is that they sit and fester.
You can learn how to start addressing things sooner, so that they don’t build up and lead to painful disconnection. The more you deal with things right away, the more connected you’ll feel. The less you deal with, the more disconnected you’ll feel.
Here are some places to start if you’re not used to turning toward your feelings and issues and dealing with them in your relationship:
1. Validate your emotions. Start by honoring what’s there, and realize your feelings are valid and shouldn’t be stuffed down.
2. Learn to regulate your emotions. Learn how to sit with these uncomfortable emotions, so you’re more able to validate them.
3. Begin. Start talking to your partner about your desire to start dealing with issues between you. Let your partner know some of the issues are old, some might be new. Tell them how scared you are to do this, or how hard it feels, and ask them to support this process. Have this conversation before even bringing up the issues.
4. Reflect. As you begin to have conversations in an attempt to repair things, notice what worked well and what didn’t. Notice what you want to do better next time you have a hard conversation.
5. Practice. Expect this to be a journey. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Allow your partner to be a beginner. Learn together how to deal with issues in a way that ends with feelings of connection and forgiveness.
You and your relationship are worth nurturing and healing. Just because you haven’t done this in the past, or haven’t done it well, doesn’t mean you can’t begin to learn these skills. This is hard work, but ultimately it is worth it to learn.