When my daughter was four, we got a pair of cute Minnie Mouse sunglasses in one of the Disney parks. Ten seconds later–I kid you not–she had lost them. We had crying, disappointment and lots of frustration. I love Disney but it is notorious for being a place where things get lost. As an example, this week a woman named Brittany Blake lost her boyfriend at Epcot. Upon losing him she posted a picture of them together and asked the internet for help. Not only her boyfriend’s shirt was worth a few laughs but also the story is entertaining. Read this hilarious story here.
Losing each other in life is as easy as losing a boyfriend at DisneyWorld. Sometimes a partner shares that the relationship is not working for them. They may say “it feels like we are roommates” or “I am not in love with you anymore.” Strong feelings including lots of fear and anger are typical responses. The surprised partner may become afraid of the future. Usually, the unhappy partner has sat with negative feelings for a while. One partner may say “I have been telling you how unhappy I am” while the other says “I did not think it was this bad.” Somehow, they feel lost to each other.
So, how do we find each other when the relationship seems lost? Here are three important suggestions.
Brittany Blake knew that she could not find her boyfriend alone. Social support and professional help are invaluable in saving relationships. Earliest is best. Blake posted to her social network as soon as she realized her partner was lost. If she had waited a few hours then it would have taken her longer to find him. The earlier you find support from a trusted and competent source, the more likely you are to get on the right track.
Safety experts recommend a meeting point in crowds or unsafe situations. One of the most common suggestions to Blake was “in the future have a designated meeting place.” In daily relationships, it is important to have rituals and safe spaces. This is easy to do once it becomes a habit. John Gottman, a well-known marriage researcher and relationship expert, discusses the importance of relationship rituals. Rituals like “we walk on Wednesdays from 7:00 to 7:15″ can bring you back to a place of connection.
In relationships, emotions abound because we care so much. My daughter and I were upset when the Minnie sunglasses decided to run away. We would not have been as upset if it had been dollar store glasses in a horrible bright orange color. When we value something highly, we often have strong emotions about it. Honoring emotions and communicating in a way that the other can hear is fundamental. So, instead of “you never have time for me because you are always working,” try “I care so much about you and I want you here.” Expressing ourselves in a way that our partner understands is the trick to success.
I am sure you will be glad to know that Brittany Blake and her boyfriend found each other. Reconnecting is possible. People do it all the time–even at Disney. Now the sunglasses are another story…
Sabrina Bowen, MS, LCMFT, provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our downtown Bethesda office, and offers both daytime and evening appointments. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Sabrina.