I remember a couple, old friends of mine, who had been married for over 25 years. They had raised a family; had made major financial decisions together; had achieved common goals throughout their marriage and, I thought, were solidly attached to one another for the foreseeable future…

Until, one day, while discussing my new book, “Couples at the Crossroads,” Sheila, the wife, asked Aaron, her husband, when was the last time he told her he loved her. At that point, I realized that our conversation had suddenly shifted from the three of us having a chat about my book to the two of them having a very private conversation about their emotions for each other.

I stopped talking at that point, waiting for a signal from one or the other to tell me where we were in the conversation. Aaron seemed to be as surprised as I was by Sheila’s shift and by her directness. Sheila was a soft spoken woman known by all of us as someone who would never make anyone feel uncomfortable; who was conflict avoidant and would hold things in at her own cost in order not to upset anyone else. So, her question to Aaron was very unlike her, and both Aaron and I were caught off guard.

Before Aaron had time to recover and come up with an answer, Sheila continued: “I bet you don’t even remember because it has been so long…” Then she turned at me: “I think the last time I heard Aaron tell me he loved me was when we got married.” She looked sad, hurt, on the verge of tears. It was obvious this had been a source of pain for her for a long time, a pain that she had not been able to express to Aaron in the past, or perhaps she had and he had not responded to her… Aaron became very defensive, but could not avoid the question and Sheila’s remark because I was there and he was a captive audience.

I realized at that point how Sheila, far from “blurting out” something too personal to be discussed in front of a third person, had “planned” for things to go this way, so Aaron wouldn’t ignore her, or respond to her with a platitude, as he had done in the past.

Sheila was hungry for feedback from Aaron. She NEEDED to hear that he loved her; that she was the most important person in his life, and he still cared for her as he did when they got married. Sheila was going through a tough time personally, with medical problems that affected her life and her view of the future. SHE WAS SCARED and needed Aaron’s support and acceptance to make her feel less anxious, but Aaron had, previously, missed all the clues from her about what she needed from him and she had felt abandoned and very insecure.

What Sheila needed is what all of us need at one point or another in our lives, particularly if we are going through a tough patch and cannot reassure ourselves. We need our partners’ reassurance, support, comfort, soothing and the provision of emotional safety. We need them to tell us that they have our backs, and that we are still worthy of their love.

When was the last time you told your partner you feel about him or her?

Author's Bio: 

Daniela Roher, Ph.D. has been a psychotherapist for nearly forty years in a career that has spanned three countries in two continents. Dr. Roher’s passion for her work stems from a deep interest in human interactions and connections and keeps her at the forefront of the new science of relationships. She continuously studies and applies treatment models that best help couples identify, understand, address and resolve interpersonal issues, in order to bring intimacy and deeper connection back into their love relationships.

Born in Italy, Dr. Roher attended the Universities of Torino in Italy, Cambridge in England, Wayne State University in the US and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. The experiences she gained from her studies in different countries nurtured her discipline and love of knowledge and her appreciation of the many ways in which different cultures affect and shape the human mind. From her many years of studying and practicing as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, she brings an ever deepening understanding of the human journey, with all its challenges and rewards.

Dr. Roher lives in Arizona where she has a private psychotherapy practice counseling individuals and couples. When not in her office, her love for the desert keeps her outdoors, not wanting to miss any opportunity to be in touch with nature and observe the miracles that constantly unfold. She is also an avid blogger on various psychological topics, with a special focus on couples’ areas of conflict.

To learn more about Dr. Roher’s practice and to read her blogs, visit www.droherpsychotherapy.com or www.couplesatthecrossroads.com.