How can we keep the emotional connection with another person when we are physically apart? How can we stay joined with each other in trust and not be tempted in other directions? Let’s face it, there are always opportunities to stray, to find ourselves doing things we never thought of doing, when we think no one is watching or when we feel separate from each other.
The fact is that nothing can come between us if there is no emotional distance there. If and when that emotional distance grows and
we feel separate then other people can come between us. Other people and other places suddenly look more attractive when we cannot feel our partner, or family member – either physically or emotionally.
At Christmas the focus is on family, which highlights any distance we feel, either physically or emotionally. It is also the end of a yearly cycle, so if, during the year, you have lost a loved one or ended a significant relationship, you might feel loss and sadness rather than joy.
Over the span of 40+ years since we met, Jeff and I have spent lots and lots of time apart, more than most couples I would say. In the bad old days of our distant relationship we found that being apart was easier than being together. For Jeff, he had the excuse of earning money, going away to work on ships where he could practice his independent life, almost as if he didn’t have a family except for when he was at home. For me, I had the ring on my finger so I could pretend I was married, but inside I knew I preferred ‘doing my own thing’ when Jeff was away. I could see my friends when I liked, everything seemed more easy-going and free – including the children – when he wasn’t around.
What we were both avoiding was our old bad feelings of disappointment, and heartbreak. I guess we thought we could go on like that forever, glad to see each other again after our times apart, but soon wondering when it was time for the next trip – and never mending the serious fractures that simmered below the surface. Instead, we each silently blamed the other for the situation and the emotional gap just got bigger.
To have exciting, alive relationships, we need to take emotional risks. When the emotional gap looks like it is getting bigger, we are withholding vital energies, or some vital communication. What we don’t want to tell someone else, because we think it would hurt them, or it would destroy the relationship, already is.
Now in these better days we still spend lots of time apart, because Jeff is away working at seminars around the world. There are so many differences though: –
- we take more emotional risks and so we stay feeling closer to each other
- we have more fun together which lasts through the time apart
- we are happier in ourselves and know that blaming each other does not work
- we feel the bonding that our more honest communication brings
- and above all, we value each other
How much do you value your partner? How much do you value each person in your family, past or present? All of us could do better in that department, and then the physical distance will not matter so much as we will carry our loved one in our hearts wherever we are or wherever they are.