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“Do you want to be here?” can be one of the most gut-wrenching questions that takes place between a couple. It’s a common question I often witness take place between couples during therapy. A series of unspoken events, a specific moment, or declining interest between the two may have led them to that moment. While the question may have been previously asked, avoided, or even argued about before they sought help the reality is the question is real and it weighs heavily. Someone has decided they want and need to know.
How a couple gets to that point that they are asking each other “do you want to be here?” is very different for each couple. Each partner, in a relationship, brings a past with them and in some way shape or form it eventually infiltrates the current relationship. In some instances, the past experiences have provided a series of healthy lessons that a partner has incorporated into the current relationship to the benefit of both. Whereas, more frequently, past unhealthy relationships have been abandoned, left in the past, and processing what took place has been avoided with the hope that a new relationship will offer different results.
Environmental, social, career, financial, and life changing events such as giving birth also take place which have a tremendous influence on bringing a couple together or driving them apart.
In hindsight there are key moments that may illustrate markers that “things” were not heading in a healthy direction. While hindsight can be 20/20 it’s important for couples to establish intentionality early in the relationship.
To be more specific, couples need to build a culture of being present and demonstrate to one another that they want to be with each other in the moment. In a current climate of over-demanding jobs, side-hustles, shuttling kids to and from activities, and a whole host of other forces pulling partners in many directions it’s crucial to be intentional about showing up for one another.
How do you avoid getting to the question of “do you want to be here?” it’s not easy. It takes work. It’s not uncommon to hear from clients after they begin couples therapy that they had not been intentional about their relationship. Couples will often share how they thought they were listening to their partner or they thought they were doing the things their partner wanted. Frequently, one partner or both realize they were just going through the motions.
It’s easy to rinse and repeat the same routine each day, each week, and each month. The paradox of routine is that it’s safe and predictable while on the other hand it can lead to one or both partners going on “auto-pilot” and a disconnect can set in.
While a solution to avoid the question of “do you want to be here” is different for each couple. I can offer a suggestion or two.
First and foremost start and end the day with an intentional routine that brings both of you together. This can be a simple cup of tea or coffee in the morning to welcome the day together. You can seize the opportunity to greet each other with an intentional hug or kiss when one or both of you arrives home from work or other responsibilities. Second suggestion involves setting boundaries around sacred time and space such as no work, current affairs, or politics discussed in the bedroom.
The most effective antidote to the question “do you want to be here” involves being intentional in your actions and demonstrating you do want to be with your partner.
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