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As a couples counselor, I often hear people say they are no longer in love with their partner. They really believe that they have fallen out of love. However, quite often, what has happened is that they weren't attending to both big and small issues in their relationship, and then they were unable to resolve the issues. This is where resentment begins to pile up. And resentment is completely TOXIC to our relationships.

We need to be able to bring up the relationship issues that are getting in the way of feeling not only loved and cared about, but also concerns that may be stopping us from living with personal integrity. It's up to us to be able to address issues, NOT ignore them and hope they will magically go away. And we need a partner who is willing to hear us out and work through the issues with us. If you are in a relationship with someone who will not hear you and will not make agreements with you about what needs to be changed, forgiven, or negotiated, then you may need to rethink being in that relationship. It won't be emotionally safe for you to bring up important issues, and you will likely be piling up resentments which will poison your relationship in the long run anyway.

Many of us don't like to bring issues up because we don't want conflict. However, while we may benefit in the short term from a lack of conflict, we are inadvertently doing our relationship a huge disservice, because not only will our partner feel like a stranger because we do not feel safe to share our concerns, we will also accumulate resentment because we will feel taken advantage of and not cared about.

So the bottom line is to really get the fact that if you neglect to bring up your relationship concerns to your partner and pretend that you have a conflict-free relationship, the issues won't go away! Instead they go underground and begin to pollute the very foundation that your relationship is built on. Soon, a gap of resentment will come between you and your partner. At that point, an issue that may have been easily resolved had it been brought up, talked about, agreed on, and dealt with, is now something that is poisoning your relationship and the feelings of love and care you have for your partner. Your relationship with yourself and your personal integrity will also suffer, because you don't trust yourself to address things that are important to you. You may not even feel entitled to bring issues up, and that is something that you are going to need to be able to do if you want your relationships to really work.

Yes, bringing issues up can be scary. Letting your partner in on what you are struggling with can provoke anxiety, especially when it's their behavior that is concerning you. But if we are to have healthy, mature relationships, we need to bring up concerns when they are mild issues that can be worked through, instead of waiting until you wake up one day and realize you don't even like your partner very much anymore! It's NOT about falling out of love, it's about letting resentment grow and take over.

If you feel that you can't bring up issues on your own, or you try and your partner isn't hearing you, seek out a good marriage and family therapist who can help you 1) bring up your relationship concerns in a productive way 2) work through them with your partner and 3) negotiate solutions that work for you both. Again, if your partner won't participate in this important work, the therapist may also help you realize that living according to your personal integrity is crucial and that it may be time to leave the relationship.

The next time you think, "I'm not in love with my partner anymore" ask yourself if you have let any resentment poison your relationship. If you aren't carrying any resentment toward your partner, then perhaps you truly have fallen out of love and you can move on. But those are two very different things.

This article was written by Barbi Pecenco, Marriage & Family Therapist Intern, IMF #54917. Barbi specializes in couples counseling in San Diego, CA. www.sdcouplestherapy.com







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