Relationally . . . on Purpose

A Chance of Poor Visibility

It happened today. That first measurable snowfall of the season. Well, it was a little measurable, on the low end of measurable, a hearty dusting.

If you live in a location where the snow falls, you know what kinds of things this precipitation can bring. If you have to travel anywhere by car, you probably start thinking not-so-nice thoughts about how the traffic will be slower, for starters.

So while today’s snowfall was on the light side and didn’t seem to be slowing down traffic much, it was the case that the visibility was rather poor.

And it hit me, visibility can be poor in relationships too.

So, what does that mean, when visibility is poor in relationships?

Think about what it’s like when visibility is poor on the roads. You’re not able to see the usual city skyline or familiar sites or landmarks. Or maybe you’re not able to see too many cars in front of you. Or you’re not even able to see the lines in the road, you don’t know if you’re in your own lane or exiting in the right place. Scary stuff.

Poor visibility on the roads.

Poor visibility in your relationship.

Neither of you feels seen by the other. You’ve been feeling unnoticed or ignored. Upsetting thoughts are starting to creep uninvited into your head – “Do I still matter to her/him/them?”

So sometimes you shout at each other to be seen. (They can’t ignore me if I’m loud thinking.) Or one of you ignores the other hoping they will eventually pursue.

You’re either wanting so hard or working so hard to be seen by the other. But you’re concealed by the fog, the rain, or the snow – the noise – that’s keeping you from being close to each other, from feeling connected and in love.

That’s poor visibility in a relationship.

And these are hazardous conditions. Just like on the road.

Slowing down. Being more vigilant about looking around for warnings or indications of oncoming hazards.

We do these things automatically when we’re behind the wheel.

Yet, somehow, we don’t know to do this in our relationships.

We don’t slow things down in our relationships. For example, we don’t stop and say, “Hey, I’m wondering if I did or said something hurtful the other day? Could you help me understand your hurt?” Or, “You really looked like you needed a hug, but I walked away from you. I really screwed that up. Can we start again?” Or we go about our usual routines and we don’t ask our partner, “What do you need from me right now?”

But when we get into the car, we automatically do all the things we know to do to ensure (is always the hope, if not the plan) that we’ll have a good, safe trip. We buckle up. We check the rear- and sideview mirrors. We watch the backup camera. We swivel our heads to check for obstacles or oncoming traffic. We use blinkers. We keep our windows clear and clean.

We’re paying attention and we’re focused (the argument is certainly that we need to be). And in conditions of poor visibility we’re even more focused on our surroundings than we are on clear and sunny days.

That’s valid.

And we need to apply this to our relationships.

When things are good, pay attention to and be focused on your partner. And when visibility in your relationship is poor, slow down and be even more focused. Be more patient and more intentional. Be kinder. Be curious.

Do the things you need to do to have a good, safe journey with your lover.

couple riding in flame orange Tbird convertible, top down

If you’d like to explore having good visibility with your partner in a safe and non-judgmental space, contact me for help in finding or refining your formula for your healthy, connected, and sexy relationship. I look forward to meeting both of you.

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Picture of JoEllen Lange, MA, LAMFT

JoEllen Lange, MA, LAMFT

JoEllen helps men connect with themselves and their identities through compassionate listening and acceptance. She provides them with tools to help them move ever closer to their intimate partners while helping them acknowledge and process their pain of previous disconnection. JoEllen also helps couples rediscover, reimagine, and redefine their connection to each other through compassionate understanding and healing. She also loves to help newly engaged or newly together couples create healthy relationship foundations by engaging them in PREPARE/ENRICH conversations.