Does your partner run from your conversations?
Saturday I had to check in early at the clinic, and let me tell you – that does not always work for this lady – especially not at the moment!
Poor little Alfred has growing pains in his legs which makes him call for me in his sleep.
He has trouble sleeping and just wants to snuggle up in my bed all night. So close to me that I can hardly sleep at all.
It is SO sad for my little man.
But quite frankly it also has a bad effect on me in the mornings.
It takes about 20-30 minutes before I am fully awake and ready to go.
But once I’m ready, all is good 😀
It really helps that Mads and I have divided the work between us.
I take Alfred during the night and he takes him in the mornings so I can sit quietly with my coffee in bed and relax after a wakeful night. Mads is “on” during the day more than I am because quite frankly he isn’t great when it comes to night time challenges. He is much more affected by it than I am so this division of care works for us.
And this Saturday, once I was ready to face the day, I went to the clinic to meet Helene, the coach behind the Power College Online Club (in Danish).
And boy is she cool!
Helene created the Power College Online Club where each month she explores a theme to help people increase their self-esteem and self-confidence and get rid of the damn “out of consideration for” disorder, as she calls it.
Helene interviewed me for the Power College. Twice actually.
First about infidelity and rebuilding trust and then her members requested that I talk about better communication, one of my best skills.
The Power College members had a ton of great questions and issues they hoped I could address. One of the members wanted to know what to do about a partner who would escape each time she wanted to have a serious conversation.
Maybe you know that feeling?
You have something you would like talk about with your better half and maybe you think about it for a few days and then when you F-I-N-A-L-L-Y muster up the courage to bring it up, your husband disappears into another room.
Running away is actually one of the four argument-strategies you should avoid because it will almost always make things worse and/or create an emotional distance between you as a couple.
Besides you won’t be able to talk things through when all your energy is spent on trying to rope in your partner so the same irritating issues will persist for years WITHOUT being resolved.
And the time spent trying to get your partner to talk to you could have been good quality time together instead.
Between you and me, what I find usually happens if your partner“runs away” is that you give up and just learn to live with the issues. (I HAVE tried this in a past relationship and it is NOT something I recommend.)
And running away isn’t necessarily physical, it can also be emotional and mental running away.
This happens when your partner is physically there but is distracted or not really present in the conversation and becomes preoccupied with either the TV, the phone or other things or just seems distant.
“Are you listening to what I am saying?”, you may ask.
“Yes of course, dear.”, he replies.
But you can feel that his mind is elsewhere… Completely gone…
At this stage you may feel:
- Extremely sad
Or that your partner:
- thinks what you’re saying is ridiculous
- doesn’t care about you
- could not care less about what is on your mind
Or that your:
- problems are not valid or real
- emotional well-being is not important to your partner
- partner doesn’t respect you
Unsurprisingly, this is like P-O-I-S-O-N for your relationship.
If what is on my mind is not important to you, it can become really difficult lying naked beside you in bed, when I feel that you do not respect me and that my feelings don’t matter to you etc.
But let me tell you something!
Even though we may think our partner is completely indifferent towards us or we come up with some other non-productive interpretations, in most cases it is actually about something COMPLETELY different.
Something you aren’t thinking about when you’re sitting on the sofa wanting to talk.
Something you aren’t thinking about when the feeling of powerlessness, despair, vulnerability and of being rejected again is all-encompassing.
What you aren’t thinking about is security. Having a feeling of security during conversations.
“But Maj, what do you MEAN when you say “the feeling of security” during conversations?!”
The point is that I have never met a single person at my clinic that did not want to have the ability to discuss the different issues that can occur when two people live together.
As a starting point you do not sit on the sofa rubbing your hands together thinking:
“Boy oh boy oh boy, I think I will pretend that my partner is nothing to me while she talks about what is on his or her mind. Ahhhh, I could also go out into the garage and see how she reacts if I leave quietly.”
I have NEVER met a person in my practice that consciously used the “run-away”-strategy just to stir things up at home because they think it’s GREAT to have conflicts and be unhappy.
The fact is that you do not have a clue about how to address these uncomfortable subjects.
In these situations, your heart races, you feel claustrophobic, you have sweaty palms, an uneasy stomach, a lump in your throat, and a great urge to run away screaming…
Do you see how this can happen? 😉
Because you are feeling insecure.
You might not be used to talking about certain topics.
Or you are not used to talking about serious things such as your emotions, thoughts, experiences etc.
(And no, you cannot always see what is happening on the inside!)
It isn’t that you’re trying to master this skill that is making it hard!
But the discomfort of tackling such a conversation that you see fleeing as your only option.
I believe that if your partner runs occasionally, you should consider that your partner might be scared as well?
This is often the case.
Frightened and incredibly insecure.
You may also consider the following:
1. How can I make the conversation feel less uncomfortable for my partner?
2. Is there anything in my tone or manner of speaking that might make my partner feel insecure and want to run away screaming – e.g. Do I constantly interrupt?
3. Could I ask my partner if he has some spare time to talk with me and say “It seems to me that you are have trouble talking about these issues – is that how you feel?”
4. Is there a topic or topics that I find difficult to talk about but that my partner finds easy to talk about? Do I let him know that I think it is a difficult conversation?
5. A conversation around “How do we handle the difficult conversations better so they become more constructive for both of us”. Ask your partner what would make it easier for him not to run and able to have the conversations.
Then it is something you are dealing with as a couple and you continue to practice, practice, practice.
When Mads and I met each other it was WAY easier for him to talk about finances and money than it was for me.
But it was WAY easier for me to talk about our relationship and feelings than it was for him.
And we each responded at different times by “running away”.
Many years later, after countless inefficient conversations (there were a LOT of these conversations in the beginning), disagreements, confessions, apologies and “practice makes perfect”, we are now both able to talk about the money and our relationship.
While it took work and it would have been easier if a little fairy had waved her magic wand and fixed it.
Oh, I do admit that it is a fantasy of mine…
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
But luckily practice makes perfect.
For you and for me.
So get back in the game, think carefully about the 5 points I have suggested and start taking the first small steps toward big changes. ;o)
Maj Wismann, – Clinical sexologist and relationship therapist since 2006
Read more about communication and conversations:
►Better Conversations: Avoid These Five Common Mistakes ←
► Let’s Have an Honest Conversation About Sex ←
► How to Fix a Communication Breakdown with Your Partner ←
****Have you been in a situation like this where your partner or yourself run away? Have you experienced something that helped you guys? Please share your experiences (and lessons) in the comments below. Remember, your comment might help someone else! And as always, thank you for sharing.
Please do remember that relationship issues is a very vulnerable topic, so please keep your words positive and loving. Thank you. Please remember to keep a nice tone. ALL negative comments will be deleted immediately. I wish to create a positive and supporting space where we can support each other, and I therefore have a zero-tolerance policy towards rudeness, condescension, negative inputs and disrespect.