One of the major struggles we hear often from couples who enter counseling is they have lost the ability to connect emotionally. They find themselves going through life caught in a maze of busyness with their focus on careers, children, civic activities and hobbies. But nowhere in the laundry list of daily activities is time made for one another. There are many excuses but little effort made to maintain an emotional connection.
“We’re like roommates,” said Karen, who has been married to Larry for more than 20 years. “I love him but it’s more like a brother than a husband or lover. I am not really sure if I can or want to get the feeling back.”
Couples like Karen and Larry are failing is in their inability to identity connection opportunities that present themselves everyday in relationships. You don’t have to look under the rocks to find them – you simply need to be mindful of your spouse. Such missed opportunities lead to an erosion in the marriage.
So how do you identify connection opportunities?
First, we must take drastic and somewhat painful actions to increase awareness of our spouse. We need to get out from behind our tablet; put away the smartphone; turn off the television; stop escaping to the home office, and limit our time on Facebook and other social media outlets. But most importantly we need to learn to get out of our own heads and move away from the clutter that inhibits our ability to identify emotionally-connecting opportunities.
We must learn to shift our attention away from outside distractions and onto the person who should be our number one priority – our spouse.
Engaging is easier said than done
But it’s not impossible, especially if your desire is to maintain a strong connection with your partner. Being engaged requires being actively aware of your partner’s presence and seeking ways to initiate dialogue and non-sexual physical touch. Engagement also can be accomplished by providing small reminders to your spouse that demonstrates they are top-of-mind. Reminders such as cards, post-it notes and mirror chalk messages that communicate you care and are actively seeking out your spouse’s attention. Small gifts, holding hands, thinking-of-you text messages also are part of the mix when it comes to seeking opportunities to connect. Throw in weekly date nights, overnight romantic getaways and sharing hobbies and you have much of the success needed to stay emotionally bonded with your partner.
What it takes is effort, commitment and the ability to seek out opportunities. Good hunting!