Working with couples, oftentimes therapists hear a partner say, our problem is that we just don’t communicate anymore. What they are really saying is, we don’t have an emotional connection anymore. Actually, they do continue to communicate; discussing the daily needs of the family, financial matters, schedules and the need for closeness but there is an emotional disengagement.
Being occupied with the matters of life, it is easy to forget about what drew couples together initially. The excitement of meeting a new person and sharing your world view and dreams with someone else draws couples together and getting to know each other is a mysterious and wonderful process. As a result, a love bond is developed and brings much happiness to the couple. Their desire to draw closer and constantly be together is sealed by their ability to emotionally bond and learn to care for each other’s feelings and wellbeing.
However, somewhere during their relationship, emotions become minimized, feelings get easily hurt, validation ceases to exist and the desire to become less vulnerable with each other surfaces; ultimately leading to a lack of trust and deterioration of the relationship.
This generally takes place when a life change takes place like the addition of children, struggles with finances, unequal distribution of household tasks and health challenges. What was once a harmonious relationship turns into a struggle, and a partner may turn to another person be it a friend, family member or co-worker for comfort and understanding. This will erode the fabric of the relationship and suddenly they find themselves disagreeing often with no hope for resolution and withdrawing emotionally.
So how does a couple rebuild that harmony. There are several things to consider in doing this.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt– When a partner says something, don’t always assume they are being insincere or dishonest. Oftentimes, the way to build back trust is to believe what they are saying. In some instances, there may be times when the truth has not always forthcoming but for the most part if the partner feels supported, trust can be restored.
Praise the other person– It is easy to focus on what a partner is not doing well. Try pointing out what they are doing right and express how it makes you feel. Simple things like thanking someone for doing nice things for you or the family, helps build up a person’s self-esteem and makes them want to do more.
Put each other first– Smartphones and working from home make people easily accessible to others and it is sometimes hard to know when to stop working. Build in boundaries, agreeing to put down phones during meals together and agree not to discuss difficult things during these times.
Don’t forget to set up dates– Dating is how you started your relationship, and it should be continued. During this time, it is an opportunity for you to focus on each other and not allow your problems to dominant this special time. Agree to a set time and make sure you keep it. It is important to rebuilding that emotional and physical connection and it gives you something to look forward to.
Text each other during the day– Sometimes a simple word can encourage your partner and let them know you are thinking about them. Emojies are a great way to communicate too.
Listen to what each other is saying– Oftentimes a partner will say something and they assume the other heard them and understood, but that is not always the case. Ask your partner to repeat what you said so you can avoid this trap. Validating what they are saying is especially important, as it makes them feel heard and appreciated.
Written by Cathy Pinnock
Cathy is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist at Simply Brave. She is motivated to help people find the answers they are looking for to enjoy happiness, find hope and regain personal strength. To learn more about Cathy, or to book a session with her, visit our website at: simplybrave.com