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By Chandrama Anderson

Couples and Premarital: Parallel Living: What to Do

Uploaded: Sep 17, 2021

I received an email thanking me for writing Signs and Symptoms of Parallel Living. She recognized it in her marriage, and asked me what to do.

Here are the steps:
1. Write down 10 feelings you have about it. Here are a few that you might be feeling:
a. Lonely
b. Sad
c. Confused
d. Angry (always look for the feelings beneath anger; e.g., the three listed above)
2. Write down 10 things you used to enjoy doing together but you don’t do anymore.
3. Write down 10 ways in which you might have been steering your ship away from your partner’s. (I know, you want to write down the 10 ways in which your partner has been steering away from you. I want you to look at your part in this. For example, did you put all your energy and focus into your kids? Did you put all your energy and focus into your career?)
4. Write down 10 ways to turn around your own behavior.
5. Write down 10 things that make you feel loved.
6. Write down 10 things that makes your partner feel loved.
7. Knowing both of you, write down 10 ways that you can make a ‘bid for connection’, meaning reaching out to do something that helps you two connect. (Some might not be your favorite things to do, but they’re very important to your partner.)

Each partner is 100% responsible for getting here. Once you’ve done enough introspection to understand your part, then approach your partner.

Use this format to speak:
I’ve been thinking a lot about us living in parallel over time. I’ve been thinking about my part in this, and how we got here. I feel, ___________, __________, and __________. (Use your feeling list from above). I wish for us to talk about it, taking turns and listening deeply. I want to hear how you feel, and what you think we can do to make this better. I miss you; I miss us. Let’s pick a time soon to have a conversation. Would you like to walk while we talk, or sit together in (your mutual favorite spot)?

Where did you first meet? What was something that you did in your early days together that you both really enjoyed? That might be the place to go for your conversations.

Yes, you’re going to have to make yourself vulnerable. That can be scary. And, it’s the path that leads to connection, and emotional intimacy.

I believe in you. You can do this.

Please don’t be Velcro or Teflon. Meaning don’t get snagged to a rough place (takes two parts for Velcro to work), and don’t let things slide off you regarding what your partner has to share.

If you find your conversations going sideways, or don’t feel you’re making progress, consider seeing a good couple therapist together.

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