Do you at times feel empty, is your relationship with your spouse or partner a shell, a front, a movie set or a facade? This is exactly what Angelique Mwizerwa is going through at the moment. According to the 35 year old, she doesn’t know why she stays in her marriage, doesn’t know why day after day she has to come home to what to her and the spouse feel like a hollow life. “At the moment, we don’t even identify feelings inside ourselves, much less in each other,” she says. The mother of three says walking down the aisle eight years ago, there was no doubt that indeed he was the man she wanted to be with for the rest of her life, and nothing whatsoever could separate them. All has changed and all she is thinking of now is having a break from all of these. She narrates that although she acknowledges the ups and downs of marriage, there is something beyond that and to her, it is hard to understand the point of staying under one roof with her partner. Asked if she has tried out counseling, she says although her partner is into it, she feels like she is done and just needs her space. Mwizerwa says the sad part is that she doesn’t know if she is genuinely enjoying her partner’s company or if she is just going through the motions because their union could be beneficial to each other. From her story, Sylvester Twizerimana, a psychologist based in Rubavu District believes that Mwizerwa and her partner could be going through what is called emotional detachment. He explains that this is common among couples, and people should understand that for this to happen, there should be triggers or reasons behind, therefore, if a couple gets to the root cause of this, they can still work things out. According to Sylvester, emotional detachment happens when one is afraid to face their inner pain, so in blocking out their inner pain, they also must block out your inner joy. “This will lead to unhappiness with anything or anyone, and this is what exactly happens to the couple if you block your joy. Happiness is a state of mind, and therefore comes only from within our mind, and if you are detached from your spouse, then there is no happiness in that marriage,” he says. Another psychologist working with young people, Emmanuela Mahoro, says generally, from studies, the fact that the infatuation phase of a relationship is caused by temporary changes in our brain chemistry, once that phase dies out, we will never be happier with someone than we were happy before we met them. She says that humans need to be emotionally connected. “We seek it, to think that you will be happy without that in your partner, which means that at some point you or both of you will engage in an emotional attachment with another individual which will complicate and make your current detached relationship even less fulfilling,” she says. How to go about it Jackyline Iribagiza, a certified counselor working at Martyrs School in Remera agrees that emotional detachment doesn't happen without reason. She believes that understanding where it comes from can help resolve the issue, adding that a couple can try to figure it out if they think about each other’s feelings and emotions. “In some instances, couples may need to go for couples’ counseling to find the cause, and from here, they will help identify what to focus on and what they shouldn’t as far as reconciling is concerned,” she says. She warns that if nothing is done, this kind of detachment can have a huge impact on both partner’s mental health, and even worse if there are children involved. According to her, it’s important to resolve the problem as soon as possible. Also, getting to know what to work on is crucial, and this could be as simple as getting to know how to treat your partner in a way they feel appreciated or loved, according to Twizerimana. Mahoro on the other hand feels like having realistic expectations and being willing to be grateful is also important as this comes with forgiveness.