After all this time you probably know her quite well, but you have certainly also come to some false conclusions, made some incorrect assumptions and overlooked some important features along your complicated way. Some of these mistakes were innocent and some were motivated by the interlocking agendas that you each have outstanding with the other. This accumulating error can become a significant problem in its own right, depending on the dynamics of your relationship. You may need to step back and rediscover each other in certain respects, from the ground up, in order to break your current deadlocks and move your relationship forward.
Rediscovery requires a genuinely fresh look, which can be a heavy lift. It requires the suspension of previous conclusions and assumptions that may now feel intuitive, and to which you may be attached for a variety of good and bad reasons. Ask new questions, listen to the answers and consider their significance. Ask what she wants and what her priorities are. Tell her what you want and what your priorities are. Ask and tell again under different conditions until you are sure. Negotiate. Assert yourself and compromise according to your real priorities. Identify valuable gifts that are easy to give. Make sure you both get a good package deal. Be genuinely sensitive for awhile and communicate. It won't kill you. You don't have to understand or explain anything on any particular attempt and you don't have to win any debates. It is more important to know what you each genuinely want than to understand why you each want it.
If this language makes your guy head hurt, keep in mind that you don't have to roll like this all the time. This is a periodic relationship exercise and not a constant way of life. Your situation is unique.
By: Joe Ferguson, PhD