By Maureen McKane, LCSW
As a relationship ages, emotional distance sets in. Catch it and stop the erosion.
Ever wonder why we partner up in the first place? It isn’t to get someone to do our laundry or drive us around. It isn’t even really about the sex. Sex these days often happens without commitment. We partner because we crave connection. We want someone to witness our story. We want to be heard and even understood.
Falling in love, you want to give that connection to the other person. I will listen to your complaints about work. Because your voice is enthralling, I won’t tire when you repeat yourself. When your eyes show me how vulnerable you are it makes me tingle. All this you do for me and I for you.
After a few years, repetition becomes boredom. I know the next story about your boss before you say it. You know my complaints about my best friend. That vulnerable look now seems like weakness. Our attention grows apart. We are still busy together with children, soccer, taxes, flu. We might even be a great tag team.
Yet connection is getting lost. The very thing we came together for, gone. The worst is when a couple doesn’t see it happening. Two jobs, two kids, two cars. No time for being a couple.
Stop the erosion before one of you connects elsewhere. Here are 5 strategies to help you reconnect.
- Make a regular date to leave the kids behind and go somewhere together. Talk while you are there. Restaurants are better than movies for this. No troubles talk. The relationship is not the topic. Dream about the future. Remember happy times. What did you hear on the radio going to work? Talk.
- Change something in your routine. Maybe you trade jobs for a weekend. Laundry person does the dishes and vice versa. Any thing funny come of that? Or break up the way you end the day. Nothing has to be the way it has always been.
- Stop in the middle of a day and ask your partner to see something you notice. It might be a toddler feeding her doll. Maybe it is a coyote crossing the back yard. Share your moments. Text a picture of it. Be patient. If you don’t get the reaction you want first time out, keep repeating. Crabby response? Try a kiss on the cheek or a kind emoticon.
- If no one has said, I love you, in a while, start saying it unexpectedly. Remind yourself as you do that it is true.
- Share this article with your partner or spouse. Either one of you can start change. Both of you starting is even better.
They say drops of water carved the Grand Canyon. Don’t let the drops of emotional distance carve away your relationship.