Finding true love, however, has its challenges and adversities. You may, for instance, experience infidelity in your relationship, have a partner who fails to respect your boundaries, or feel deeply sad and lonely in your marriage. You may be a woman whose relationship is crumbling, or is enduring the end of a marriage. You could also be a woman who has a strong desire to marry but can't find your soul mate.
In Woman to Woman you will read about women who experienced such challenges, as well as those who were able to find fulfillment in their romantic relationships. In their own words, they talk about marriage, sex, infidelity, divorce, and single life. Entwined within their stories, Dr. Granzotto discusses critical issues that characterize a healthy intimate relationship. In the same way that a woman speaks intimately to another, she provides her expert knowledge and insight that will empower you with a better understanding of yourself and your love life.
|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Married and Lonely When a Relationship Lacks Emotional Intimacy
Men and woman share a longing for love, but differ in how they experience intimate relationships. Women look forward to the feeling of closeness with a partner — talking, exchanging affection, and spending time together is of utmost importance.
Women tend to place a great value on their relationships, which can be explained by the childhood role models and early messages they internalize while growing up. As girls, they learn the importance of being nurturing and attuned to other people's feelings.
Men, on the other hand, are raised to value independence and self-reliance. They learn to bond through shared activities as opposed to talking and expressing feelings. Career and achievement are important to them.
Compared to women, men are not as in tune with their feelings and those of others. They also tend to have difficulty understanding emotions that are not openly verbalized. When it comes to intimate relationships, the level of closeness they expect is often not on par with that of women.
That is not to say that a man is any less capable of developing an emotional bond with the person he loves. Just like well adjusted women, emotionally healthy men welcome intimacy. They allow themselves to become close to their partners without fearing the loss of their own identity. Their relationships contain trust, respect, affection and open communication, which is what emotional intimacy is all about.
While emotional intimacy is the foundation of every lasting and satisfying union, it is certainly lacking in a great number of relationships. Why is this so?
Our early childhood experiences have a significant impact on our love lives. In other words, the view we internalized of ourselves and the emotional difficulties we experienced shape who we are and how we behave in our relationships.
As children, we turn to our caregivers for food, comfort, and love. If they are able to meet our needs, we develop a sense of trust and security. We feel their love for us and this in turn makes us feel worthy and secure in our lovability.
Being raised in such a warm environment has a positive influence on the partners we become involved with and how we relate to them. We are likely to attract and be attracted to individuals capable of being emotionally intimate. We allow ourselves to trust and get close to our partners. When conflict arises, we are likely to solve it effectively through respect and compromise. As a result, we tend to be satisfied with our intimate relationships.
Not all of us, however, had the best upbringing. Some of us had parents who were rejecting or inconsistent in their ability to make us feel safe, unconditionally loved, and cared for. These early experiences affect our ability to trust and feel worthy of love.
Our low sense of self-worth increases our fear of rejection and abandonment and compels us to stay in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship longer than we desire.
Mary, 55, shares her experience of being in an unfulfilling marriage. Immersed within her testimonial are the words of a woman who holds a poor view of herself: I don't love Fred, I don't think I ever did. He's not my companion or the man I wanted for myself. I wish he was my friend and respected me. We have nothing in common. We have a lot of conflict in our marriage and I resent him very much. But what can I do at this point in my life? It's not good being with him, but it would be worse without him. I don't want to start all over again with someone else. I'm no longer young and pretty. I don't have anything to offer.
People's fears and insecurities originated from childhood can also interfere with their ability to emotionally attach to a partner and fully commit to the relationship.
Linda, 42, is married to an emotionally distant partner:
My husband comes home and goes straight to the TV, he doesn't even talk with us. He does the same thing when we go out to eat. He sits at the table and grabs his newspaper, he ignores us. He never has time for his family. His life is all about work. I feel angry. It's not fair, it's not right what he's doing.
Individuals who experience strong feelings of inferiority and inadequacy may also have a need to control their partners. Their domination can take the form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
Claire, 32, is married to an abusive partner: My husband is controlling and abusive. He makes negative comments and criticizes me about every little thing I do. He also makes hurtful jokes with the intention of humiliating me. I feel like I'm being treated like a child and I don't like it all. I experience a lot of anger and resentment toward him. I'm very unhappy in my marriage.
Since healthy intimacy constitutes the core of a gratifying relationship, there are ways for you and your partner to nourish a strong foundation. The first step is to reflect on what has been preventing both of you from experiencing an emotional connection with one another.
As mentioned before, our early experiences with our caregivers have a great deal of influence on our intimate relationships. If we internalize a view of ourselves as being unworthy, defective, and unlovable, we are going to find it extremely difficult to trust a partner and become emotionally close to him. We will be inclined to perceive his behavior as insincere, rejecting, and uncaring. Our low self-esteem also increases our chances to get involved with unhealthy partners.
Therefore, when building intimacy in your relationship, you need to ask yourself the following questions: What are the faulty assumptions that interfere with my ability to develop intimacy? Is it the belief that I am not good enough to be loved? Is it the fear of being rejected and having to deal with immense pain and hurt? Or is it the dread of being controlled and losing myself?
We all feel the need to develop a meaningful relationship with another human being to experience a sense of connection and belonging. If we fail, we are likely to feel lonely.
Being lonely, however, is not the same as being alone. While alone, we have the opportunity to reflect on how we feel and think about ourselves, our relationships, and our lives in general. Being alone can be a meaningful and enriching experience.
Loneliness, on the other hand, is an emotional state that involves feelings of isolation, emptiness, and alienation. We feel disconnected from others. When we feel lonely, we may experience sadness, depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These feelings can lead to self-destructive behaviors, like the excessive use of alcohol, food, or drugs.
Many women experience loneliness, including those who are married. We may feel lonely when our spouses are often away on business trips, work late hours, or pursue their own interests. The lack of time together makes it difficult for us to develop a strong bond with our loved one.
We may also feel lonely if our partner is physically present yet emotionally distant. When we fail in our attempts to be noticed and heard, we are likely to experience strong feelings of rejection, emptiness, and sadness. This is the case with Betsy, 48, married for twenty-three years:
My husband and I haven't had a nice conversation in a long time. He can sit right next to me for hours without saying a word. When we talk, it's always about the kids, bills to be paid, and other insignificant things. I don't feel important to him. I feel lonely. I wish he would pay attention to me like he used to when we were dating. He made me feel special. Now he doesn't even notice me anymore. I've tried to talk to him about how I feel, but he shuts me out. I feel unhappy in my marriage.
Carol, 36, shares her frustration of being unable to connect with her spouse:
I've been married for twelve years. This is what a typical day with my husband is like for the past several years:
My husband gets home around 6:00pm. He says hi to me and the kids and goes to change. Then he sits at the table to have dinner. Usually he asks, "What's for dinner today?" I hate that question. Sometimes I say something like dead roach soup and gecko sandwiches. He laughs. I ask myself, what the hell is he laughing at? Does he think I'm trying to be funny?
At the table he asks me about my day. I know all he wants to hear is that my day was good. If I extend myself, he seems to get annoyed and tells me to get to the point. He frequently interrupts me to say something to the kids and doesn't show any interest in having me continue what I was saying. This is upsetting. He makes me feel that what I have to say isn't important.
After dinner the kids go to sleep and we sit on the couch. First thing he does is turn on the TV. It's like he has a meeting with the TV every day. He doesn't ask me what I want to watch. He goes ahead and turns to sports, which I have no interest in. What I hate even more is when he's watching TV and his attention isn't on me. I don't think it's asking too much of him to just look at me when I'm talking. If I ask him a question, I have to repeat it because at first it doesn't register in his brain. What is it that men can only focus on one thing at a time? The other day I asked if he could chew gum and walk at the same time and he got upset.
I tried to talk to him about how I feel. He told me "Okay, I'll turn off the TV." He then turned to me and said, "So what do you want to say?" He got it all wrong. By telling him how I felt, I thought he would say "Okay, honey, I understand how you feel and I'll do things differently to make you happy." However, it didn't work that way. So things continued the way they were. While he's watching TV, I wait for the commercials to talk to him. Lately, however, he's been recording his TV shows and he can skip through the commercials. So all I can do is try to remember everything I want to tell him and wait until after his show ends.
By the time he finishes watching TV it's time to go to bed. In bed I have about two minutes of his attention if I'm lucky. Usually it takes him about five seconds to fall asleep. He tries hard to keep his eyes open for about two minutes so I can talk. His brain, however, is already sleeping and it's just his eyes that are open. I used to think that he was listening because he was so quiet. But I realized that he's just going in and out of sleep. Once I stop talking, the room gets quiet for a few moments. He then kisses me goodnight and tells me he loves me. The only time he talks to me for as long as I want is when he wants to have sex. He knows he needs to talk to me first to get what he wants.
I do love my husband and I know he loves me, but I wish he would sit down with me for a few moments every day without turning on the TV or interrupting me. I don't mind the routine of my marriage — I was expecting that before I made the decision to get married. What I wasn't expecting was the fact that I wouldn't be able to count on my husband as my companion and best friend.
A couple's success in connecting with each other depends on both people's willingness to reach out to one another.
As mentioned before, some people have difficulty allowing themselves to get close to the person they love. They may fear being smothered and controlled or being rejected and abandoned.
People who experience a strong fear of rejection tend to believe they are not good enough to be loved. While they think they are trying everything possible to bond with their partners, they may engage in behavior that drives their significant others away. They do this to protect themselves from what they see as inevitable rejection. This self-protective behavior, however, can lead to loneliness.
It is in our early years that we first experience loneliness. It happens when we feel neglected and rejected by those we love most. The inability to reach out to important people in our lives perpetuates feelings of disconnection and isolation. Trust is destroyed and, to protect ourselves from further pain, we retreat.
As the years pass and we reach adulthood, our appearance changes, but we still feel the same inside, afraid to get close to the person we love for fear of being rejected and abandoned.
Our past emotional wounds, therefore, can interfere with our ability to develop meaningful relationships and thus contributes to our feelings of isolation. For these reason we need to heal. The healing process begins with revisiting our past and allowing ourselves to get in touch with painful experiences and feelings. We work on the present by identifying dysfunctional and inaccurate thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that feed our feelings of fear, anger, and shame. We replace them with more realistic and empowering statements and behaviors.
When healing begins to take place, we witness ourselves growing into a more self-confident and well-balanced person who feels empowered to make positive changes. While our wounds may never be completely healed, they can be repaired to the point that our negative emotions no longer force decisions upon us.
For a long time, Barbara, a 39-year-old psychologist, carried unresolved emotional wounds from her childhood. In her journey toward healing, she was able to face her fears and forgive an important person in her life. She learned not to feel like a powerless victim of the past, but rather a truly proud survivor:
Most of the memories I have about my childhood are sad. When I go back and visit my past, I remember seeing a child who perceived the world as being full of strangers. I felt insecure, inadequate, and worthless.
My father was affectionate toward me, but had difficulty controlling his anger. He never laid a hand on me, but I was afraid of him. When he yelled, he did so loudly. My mother was less affectionate, but showed more empathy. However, her mood swings were difficult to live with. I never knew when she was going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. When she did, she was irritable and impatient. This created a lot of anxiety in me.
My parents showed their love mostly through their concern about my health. My mother was critical of me, and I felt I didn't live up to her expectations.
I felt I was a sick and defective child. How could I feel good about myself if I wasn't good enough for my parents? I wanted them to be proud of me, but I felt that I had failed. For many years in my life, I suffered the agony of never being perfect in the eyes of my mother and, worst of all, in my own eyes.
Because of my feelings of inferiority and lack of self-confidence I struggled in all areas of my life for a long time. I felt devastated when I didn't get a good grade. I felt ugly and not good enough to believe that boys were interested in me. I had difficulty seeing that I had friends who cared about me. Because of my feelings of inadequacy, I created a wall around me.
When I became involved in romantic relationships, I expected my significant other to be the perfect partner. I tried, in vain, to change them to fit my ideal version of a man. I had a strong fear of being rejected. Being close to someone was frightening to me. When I started getting involved with a nice guy I would end the relationship because I believed that he would eventually get tired of me and leave. The more insecure and afraid I was, the lonelier I felt.
It wasn't until I moved out of my parents' house and reexamined my past that I began to change the way I felt about myself. I've been able to slowly build up my self-esteem. I've accomplished goals that I once thought were impossible. I married a great man, and I feel secure about his love for me.
Over the years I've been able to look at my past and the current relationship with my parents from another perspective. I no longer see my mother with the eyes of a child. She no longer has the power she once had over me. Likewise, I learned not to fear my dad, but instead understand that behind his outbursts there's a person who never learned how to deal with fear, anxiety, and frustration.
A few years ago my mother sat down with me and talked about her childhood, her marriage, and her unfulfilled dreams. She shared her resentment of not being able to change her past and her feelings of hopelessness about the future. I was profoundly touched by the deepness of her wounds.
For many years I blamed my parents for not giving me the childhood that I felt I deserved. Fortunately, I've been able to let go of the anger and resentment. I understand that, like me, my parents were once children who also had less then perfect parents.
Unlike me, my mother hasn't been able to heal and create a new life for herself. She'll probably die believing that life is not worth living. I wish she could have healed her wounds just enough to allow her to stop bleeding.
As for me, I'm glad that I no longer feel victimized by my past. On the bright side, if I had a different past, I wouldn't be exactly where I am now, which is where I want to be.
For Barbara and many of us, our childhood lacks the warm memories we need to grow into a person with solid self-esteem. Nevertheless, we always have the option of changing the way we feel about ourselves.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Woman To Woman"
Copyright © 2012 Daniela Granzotto, Psy. D..
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Married and Lonely When a Relationship Lacks Emotional Intimacy,
2 "I felt like a sex object" When Boundaries Are Violated,
3 "I couldn't take it anymore" Life With a Controlling and Abusive Man,
4 "I lost my self-esteem" The Power of Toxic Shame and Guilt,
5 "My mother-in-law shred me to pieces" When a Mother Interferes With a Marriage,
6 "It all began with friendship" The Extramarital Affair,
7 "I fantasized that marriage would be an eternal honeymoon" When Expectations Are Too High,
8 "My husband changed" When Flaws are Revealed,
9 "We don't listen to each other" When Communication Fails,
10 "I feel worn out" Experiencing an Unhealthy Marriage,
11 "My husband cheated on me" Being the Victim of an Extramarital Affair,
12 "My life is so much better" When Divorce is a Good Thing,
13 "I need you dad" A Father's Role in a Woman's Life,
14 "We're best friends and lovers" What a Successful Marriage Feels Like,
15 "I'd like more affection" Sexual Intimacy and Marriage,
16 "I've always feared getting married" The Single Woman,
17 Women's Words of Advice Final Thoughts,
About the Author,