Have you ever wondered what happened to the “spark” in your relationship? Or why the emotional chasm between the two of you just seems to keep getting bigger, no matter what you do? Even though it sometimes seems like a sudden realization, emotional distance between married couples is a gradual process, not unlike the forces of entropy in the universe. It can be triggered by a dramatic life event (i.e. becoming parents, losing a parent, career change, etc.) or by a series of smaller interactions.
Looking back, you may wonder when it was exactly that you stopped kissing each other goodbye before leaving in the morning. Or when you started going to bed separately. Or when date nights became superfluous. When important rituals take a backseat, priorities shift, and affection becomes “extra,” it’s not difficult to imagine why the slow but sure decline in emotional intimacy inevitably follows. But the good news is, you can reclaim the deep connection you once felt with your beloved.
Here are three ways you can begin to turn your relationship around:
- Be mindful.
Most of the time spouses do not ignore each other’s needs out of spite. More often than not, we just get busy and our life together becomes rather mindless. Take time to notice when your partner is asking for your attention (even if their approach or tone comes across negatively). So, when you can tell your partner is stressed, make time to be present and/or lighten their load in some way.
- Create a culture of respect and appreciation.
These attributes, when openly expressed in love, can be transformational in a marriage. Practice verbalizing what you are thankful for or what you love about your partner. Along with respect and appreciation, expressing your gratitude communicates awareness, responsiveness, and a desire for connection. When you see him spending quality time with the kids (even if this is the norm), let him know how awesome of a dad you think he is. Or when your wife is exhausted and cranky after a long day, let her know how proud you are of how hard she works for your family.
- Choose to love.
Love is a feeling, but it is also a choice. When we let our feelings (particularly feelings of love for a spouse) take the driver’s seat, it can make for quite a tumultuous ride. Instead, anchor yourself by choosing to love for better or worse. Be someone your spouse can count on – whether he is in a foul mood or not. Even when you are stressed and/or exhausted, make an effort to be present, give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and shower him with grace. Try listening without problem solving, giving a spontaneous backrub, or encouraging your spouse to head out to the gym even if that leaves you with dinner and bedtime on your own. What a beautiful and difficult sacrifice this would be, but also what a worthwhile endeavor to rekindle the intimacy you so long for with your loved one.
At Wynns Family Psychology, we specialize in helping couples and parents because we know marriage and raising kids can be challenging. Our team of clinicians has expertise in children, teens, and families! In addition to couple’s counseling and parent coaching, we also provide individual and play therapy, testing, and social skills groups for children, teens, and young adults. We are excited to announce the opening of our new Greensboro office! For more information about how WFP can help you and your family navigate a difficult season or transition, or to make an appointment, please visit our website wynnsfamilypsychology.
- Sponsored by Wynns Family Psychology
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