Working Through the Dreaded "Relationship Itch"
"So what do you want to do?" "I don't know, whatever you want to do", she said with tired eyes staring off into the distant kitchen. She had every right to be tired. This was the fourth time this month we have had this conversation. Once a week it was inevitable it seemed, one or both of us would get upset over some trivial matter and here we were.
Last week I didn't hang up the towels correctly. The week before, she didn't listen to me one of the thousand times I brought up my business plans. The week before that— who knows any more? We were simply over it all.
The place we found ourselves in of simply being tired of each other and wary of everyday interactions is not uncommon. In fact, this phenomenon is known as the "relationship itch". Even if you don't know the term, you might know the feeling. When we first met the sun was shining, the butterflies were dancing and there was nobody on earth more crafted to be my very own lover. Then just two years later, the sun seemed dimmer, the butterflies were less chipper and maybe, just maybe there was someone out there better crafted for me. We had found ourselves at a stalemate. We didn't necessarily want to go but staying seemed like so much work.
The place we found ourselves in that month was basically a make or break situation. It would all come down to how we handled it. Let me be clear, this was not about love, love is the glue that holds our bond together. Love is what prompts us to continually cater to each other, make sacrifices and be long suffering with our unique situation. If love is the glue binding us, you could simply say we were tired of the adornments. If we considered relationships like a package to unwrap we greatly wanted the gift inside and it was the gift we had been waiting for. Yet, it was also a gift we had to unwrap everyday and neither of us were willing to getting off our butts and unwrap it. Instead we made excuses about the type of packaging. When we taunted "you always…" or "you never…" we were simply picking apart the package because it was easy and less terrifying than actually looking at the underlying issues.
Our underlying issues (as we later discovered) were able to be salvaged. Our issue was our communication. She felt that I wasn't paying attention anymore. I felt that she wasn't listening to understand me. She felt she didn't have a place with me anymore because I was dealing with baggage from the past that had nothing to do with her. I felt that she didn't want me to grow into this new space that my being was occupying. The only way we were able to navigate this was by continuous communications on both ends.
In order to remedy our "relationship itch" we tried to pinpoint where it went wrong, but that proved impossible. There was no defining moment of downfall, no acts of infidelity, no heartbreak or shame we could blame it on. It was simply us drawing apart without noticing it because we slipped into two separate lives. Everyday we headed to separate jobs, separate worlds and different ideologies. There was nothing wrong with leading separate lives, we just never checked in with the one another.
Our relationship currently is moving past this itch (thank God)! It didn't happen because we ignored our feelings. It didn't happen because we left to see greener pastures. It happened because we sat down together and made a conscious effort based on the underlying issues. Getting back to honest and upfront conversation sealed the deal.
Dealing with this slight setback doesn't happen over night I've also learned. I tend to want uncomfortable things over with quickly. To me, nothing is more uncomfortable than deciding what to do with your lover, especially when love is the problem. It also helped me see that love is not the solution. It is great to be in love, but when the "itch" hits, love may feel like it’s not enough. I had to settle down into rational thinking, not based on emotions. Like making a pros and cons list of everything this relationship offers now and in the future. Talking to a few trusted sources, simply laying out the problem and seeing if there was a new way for me to look at it. Also simply giving each other some space (this does not necessarily have to mean breaking up). It took a ton of long walks alone around the neighborhood to sort myself out.
In the sorting out, I was able to determine what I needed and what I was just nitpicking at. It also allowed me to state my intentions clearly. Once I cleared my mind I was able to express myself when needed and when it was required to actively listen. She also used this time wisely much in the way I did. After many heated arguments and likely fantasizing about a different life, she was the one to always come to me to discuss it one more time.
We never give up on discussing talking through our issues. In these discussions, we come with ears unstuck and hearts open. We lay it out on the table what is good for both of us. We say the hard words. We allow each other time to regroup with moments of solitary thinking. We hold back from blame.
Though this relationship is far from perfect, it is the most loving I have ever been in. I am grateful for these momentary "itches" that allow us to refocus our intentions. I am proud that we didn't jump ship at the first sign of a wave. I am delighted that I am able to grow to a place that is fortified. During these moments I am able to remember that her heart is for sure my most favorite place.