Paper Cuts & Keeping Love
Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Romantic relationships, especially long-term ones, are hard. Life has a way of getting in the way of closeness. There is always something, and sometimes it gets to feel like “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts.”
I want to talk to women and men who feel themselves hurt and detaching from or losing the love for your partner. This blog is for the responding partner, the person who is detaching because they feel their spouse or significant other has changed and/or has already detached.
First I will tell you that I believe it is fundamental that in any long term relationship, if it is to last, that the parties take special time for one another and turn towards one another regularly. Keep the fires burning in the relationship. Take time together, just one another. To me this is fundamental and a requirement to keep the relationship vital and alive.
In every relationship there is a leader or a dominant person. Yes, relationships are partnerships, but without a doubt there is always one stronger or more dominant party. If the two do not take time together often the quieter, responding partner, continues to acquiesce to the dominant party’s wishes. What happens then? It’s often a paper cut. A paper cut may bleed but usually hurts for only a moment. In the relationship often the quiet, responding party rationalizes that the paper cut is not worth bringing up in a discussion. It’s only a tiny cut, but it’s a step toward detachment.
This situation is fine if the parties take time to communicate and take specific “together” time, but if they do not, these paper cuts tend to build. Over time we find the paper cuts start to cut away the love. In this situation the quieter party must determine whether to speak up or continue to remain quiet. Always remaining quiet is not good. The dominant party needs to know that the hurt is present.
It’s far more effective to talk to your partner not in anger. I realize that’s hard, but it’s best to think about what you need to say and plan a time to say it. I can hear many people reading this thinking, that sounds good, but you don’t know him or her. They never listen, or, they will be too busy, too distracted, too self-absorbed to a talk.
Let’s be honest…neither party wants to have the talk. Generally both parties dread the infamous talk. The moment we bring up we need to talk, each party thinks of all the failed talks and thinks of excuses.
There are ground rules that should be agreed to in these discussions. First, this type of talk is for healing, and it is no place for threats or anger. Second, do not re-hash old arguments. What is past must be past. Let it go and deal with the current issues. Third, if the discussion starts to escalate and tempers start to flare, agree to discontinue the discussion to be picked up at a later agreed to date and time.
If you called the talk, you should speak first. When you speak, be direct and specific. Limit yourself to making no more than 3 points per talk session. Don’t use terms such as always, never, or anything similar.
The first priority after you speak is to actively listen to your partner. Practice an art called reflecting. In this practice, at the conclusion of your partner speaking you tell him what you heard. Then ask your partner if you got it correct.
If attempts at a talk seem to fail, take a weekend away or spend a night at some place special to you both. Sometimes when you can’t reach one another it is best to step back and de-escalate the situation. The special time away may bring you closer and allow the talk to occur.
If all else fails, make an agreement to go to a coach or a therapist to learn how to talk to one another to resolve these paper cuts before they are the death of the relationship. Certainly, if I can be of assistance I am available.