Partnership is like a human, it goes through many life stage changes .  Feelings fluctuate and need to be shared but when things feel vaguely estranged, sharing is hard.

The couples will have gone through many different things which life throws at them…loss, babies growing into independent yet still at home children, building careers and facing redundancy and change.  Early enthusiastic shared dreams and hope are sometimes realised and sometimes dashed.

At the same time, bodies are changing, energy is less, tolerance and acceptance of difference occurs. Exploring different paths and interests can also create distance.  Some dear friends to one will be strangers to the other.

Which ways can be tried to hold onto the ever changing scene and connection between two people who still love each other?  The answer may be found with different feelings from the time they first met and accepting that the expectations of each other change over time.

Try and check the words which are about to come out of your mouth and wonder why you are about to say something which you know will cause a familiar verbal sparring match.  If you say something slightly different in a non confrontational tone of voice, the other person will be likely to respond differently.  This will create a new respect for each other and begin to alter the same old pattern.

If it begins to feel safer and more intimate, sharing your feelings will become a healing process rather than another buried bit of anger which sits inside and mutates into cruel words the next time a disagreement arises.

Owning instead of blaming is different when grudges and resentments have become the normal code of behaviour and communication.  Taking time out to wonder why you said or did something which, yet again, led to the same round of blaming.

All these little edits to what has become a malignant pattern give a sense of altering ways which have become a habit.

Remember that the things you say to your partner of many years can be harsher and more unkind than what you would say to anyone else in your life…friends, you might lose them,…relations…they might give you the cold shoulder when family gatherings take place…workmates…they would complain to HR.  Why treat the person you have gone through so much with over the first two life stages like an enemy when the idea of the couple coming apart doesn’t bear contemplating?

Clare Ireland.