Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been a therapist for over 30 years, specializing in work with couples, families and relationships. She has expertise with clients
I often meet with couples who complain about growing apart as the challenges of daily living lure them into routines that leave little time for focusing on the relationship. This, coupled with the new and added stress of technology, invites people to be more involved with things other than their marriage.
Connecting with your partner is crucial to the stability of any marriage. It doesn’t take a lot of time to fan the flames of the relationship. In fact, research studies by John Gottman, PhD found that a simple 5 hours a week can make a difference in the quality of a couple’s relationship.
Here are 7 suggestions for ways to reconnect with your partner.
1. Find some way to connect with each other, even if it is only briefly, before you begin your day. Share a kiss and a bit about the plan for your day. If possible, have breakfast together, even if the children are rushing around with you. Spoon a few minutes before getting out of bed in the morning and make sure that you are not always the small spoon.
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2. Develop a ritual that involves sharing your day with your partner. Find some way to spend time every night processing your day. Use the time to talk about positive or stressful events. Share highs and lows with each other. Share confidences and secrets.
3. Plan a regular date every week, even if you never leave home. Dates don’t have to be fancy, but they do need to be time that is devoted to relaxation or fun and just the two of you. If finding a sitter is too expensive or too hard, make sure something happens after the children are in bed, over lunch or any other time that fits with your schedule. This should be a time that you devote to each other and last for at least a couple of hours, not hurried to fit in between events.
4. Find ways to connect with each other, just to say “I am thinking about you” during the day. Send a text, call or email. Leave notes in pockets or lunch boxes. Find ways to remind your partner … and yourself, that he or she is important to you. If you find that you are the kind of person who gets caught up in the day, set your phone alarm, or find some way to remind yourself to do what might come naturally to others.
5. Physically touch, hold, soothe, snuggle with your partner. Reaching out and touching each other is a physical reminder of your connection. Touch invites caring. It is good to be playful in touch if your partner appreciates it. Romantic touch is not necessary all of the time. Warm and affectionate ways of saying “I love you” and “You matter” are great ways to nurture a relationship.
6. Share positive comments and affirmations. Gottman found that couples in healthy marriages have 5 minutes, accumulated throughout the day, of positive affirmations.
7. Don‘t sweep conflict under the rug. A lack of resolving conflict can easily lead to distance and loneliness in a marriage. Avoiding conflict may seem to help in the short run; however, if left unresolved, can lead to the distancing cycle that is a breeding ground for affairs. Learn ways to communicate calmly and respectfully about differences.
Many live with the myth that marriage and connection should come easily and, if it does not, then there is something wrong with the marriage or the partner. In actuality, for most, it involves a conscious decision to make the relationship a priority and find a way to make connection.
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