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Withdrawal in relationships

BY: Dr John Boakye
If you focus on the wrongs of your lover and withdraw, you put the problems out of your control and nothing good happens.

There are hundreds of harmful bacteria all around us but they are so small and invisible to the human eye. However when allowed to invade your body, they break down your immune system and may leave you sick, dying or dead. 

In the same way , there can be many germs in relationships. These are the small things we take for granted but which if not treated make our relationships sick, dying or dead.
One such germ is called withdrawal. Withdrawal is the unwillingness to discuss problems or refuse to acknowledge such problems exist.

Imagine the situation of a couple who had their wedding five years ago. Early this year, the wife got a call informing her that her husband is cheating on her with a colleague in his office. She had always suspected this.

When she confronted her husband he vehemently denied it even though the wife had damaging evidence to back up her case. The withdrawal followed and for seven months they hardly talked to each other. They stopped going out together or eating together and the woman has refused all sexual attempts by the man. And the withdrawal continues and counting.

Why withdrawal?
Some see their problems as hopeless and therefore make no effort to work at them. Some give up because they think they have done their best and expect their lovers to do theirs. You, therefore, create space and refuse to talk about your problems or listen.

Some partners refuse to talk or share activities they normally enjoy doing. A husband may refuse the meals of a wife and a wife may use sex as a weapon. Some do everything to avoid conflicts in their relationships. They withdraw mentally by shifting their minds off the relationship and see it as ‘living dead’.

Most partners withdraw to protect their self-esteem. They are unable to face their acts of wrong-doing. They hide their true feelings by putting the blame on others. Withdrawal is used out of fear of lack of ability or success.

It is a fact that men withdraw more than women. Men are more vulnerable to failure because it threatens their self-esteem. We cannot face a losing situation and find it hard to apologise. We, therefore, tend to avoid discussing issues in which a woman is more likely to get the upper hand and therefore threaten our ego.

Effect of withdrawal
Most partners are unable to cope with withdrawal. They feel unwanted, helpless, controlled and worthless. They may feel imprisoned in their own homes. Some partners spend several hours watching TV to help them turn off their minds and shut out the world. Tension may give rise to physical and mental break-down.

Some women overeat in withdrawal. The act of eating is an easy way to avoid upsetting feelings such as boredom, loneliness or sadness. Food dulls the pain of unhappy feelings but if you use food for withdrawal , chances are you become obese or ‘obolo’.

Some men get into substance abuse or promiscuous life to reduce their anxiety or fear during withdrawal. By channelling their tension into activities they can control, they attempt to restore their failing ego. Others work long hours as a measure of achievement to restore their ego.

Stop the withdrawal
Habitual withdrawal is a common way partners handle their challenges in relationships but appreciate that withdrawal is the worse approach to handle your conflicts. It leads to mistrust, suspicion, bitterness, tension and hurt.

If you focus on the wrongs of your lover and withdraw, you put the problems out of your control and nothing good happens. You simply keep digging holes and sinking deeper.
You must therefore examine your own actions and see what you can do better. Accept you are part of the problems because it takes two to fight.

A woman must know that when her lover withdraws, he is simply expecting her to take the initiative. Sit down and talk about your problems. Sometimes apologising even when it may not be your fault is an easy way to grow your relationship. Be lovable and all things to your lover.

What you must never do is to withdraw because withdrawal is a harmful bacteria that can cripple or kill your relationship.

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