Needs not being met
In any relationship we have practical, emotional, intellectual and physical needs and the most successful loving relationships exist because there is a recognition from both parties of their partners needs in these four areas, unbalances start to arise when one or both of the parties needs are not being met in one or more of these areas.
Just to clarify what I mean-
Practical: Your practical needs/lifestyle, how you co-exist as a physical partnership ?
Emotional: Do you have compassion and a deep understanding of each others emotional needs, how do you communicate your love for one another?
Intellectual : What goes on in your head - do you understand and connect with how your partner thinks, do you communicate openly about your thoughts/ideas/plans ?
Physical: Are you able to open express your sexual desires and do you feel comfortable in your own skin when being intimate with your partner ?
You could have a couple that on the face of it enjoy the perfect family life, practically they enjoy the same interests, both share similar lifestyle preferences and have similar views on religion and spirituality however find it very difficult to be open with their partner sexually indicating that they struggle to connect and communicate on a physical level.
This wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to detect for anyone observing the relationship from the outside yet could be causing them to disconnect on a very intimate level which could lead to very stormy conditions lying beneath the perceived still and peaceful waters projected to the outside world.
This is where communication and awareness in the relationship are so important, if you are mutually open and expressive in your relationship you will both take some level of responsibility for each others needs being met in all four areas of the relationship.
I have worked with a number of clients who have been in longterm disconnection within certain areas of their relationships yet maintained a high level of connection in others for example I know a client whose relationship had completely disconnected emotionally to the extent that her partner had confessed to having a relationship with another person outside of the marriage and in fact declared that he wanted to leave his marriage to be with this person yet bizarrely he continued to pursue a sexual relationship with my client , his wife.
She being very much in love with her still husband thought his actions indicated that he was having second thoughts about leaving the marriage and remained connected to him sexually even though he had disconnected from her emotionally and physically by announcing that for him the marriage was over and moving out of the family home.
Crazy or is it ? this was simply a case that her partner was struggling to disconnect from the part of the marriage he always found it easy to be connected to , the sex and quite evidently in this particular relationship the sexual connection was very strong.
For them the sexual connection was obviously very deep, he may have found is easy to disconnect physically by leaving the marital home, mentally by cutting daily contact and emotionally by pursuing a new relationship yet couldn’t disconnect sexually from my client as both of their needs were fully met in this area of their relationship.
Its very hard to disconnect completely from a relationship when you have a very strong connections in certain aspects of your marriage but not in others because whilst you can disconnect relatively easily from the areas in your relationship where you had unmet needs its incredibly hard to disconnect from aspects of your relationship which you were fully satisfied with.
In some relationships the disconnection is global in the sense that the disconnecting partner disconnects equally on all levels which to some degree makes the separation easier to accept but for some its not the case as with the example we’ve just looked at and in this kind of dynamic the disproportionate strengths in connection makes it very hard for them to stay yet equally very hard for them to leave.
Many couples rub along in relationships compromising certain needs in order to retain their connection to others, I know many couples who are great friends and live happily together on a day to day basis yet underneath the bonnet of the relationship yearn for stronger connections emotionally and /or sexually and yet value the practical and intellectual connection that they share so much that they’re willing to compromise their emotional and sexual needs in favour of retaining the status quo.
When a relationship breaks down and you're in the process of deciding to separate or have actually separated and are in the process of looking back at the marriage and trying to identify where it became out of balance its very useful to look at each partners needs and whether they were being met by the other partner, we can live without many things, we can fight through extreme adversity if our core needs are being met.