The most common problem that couples report when they initially walk into my office is that they are no longer emotionally connected.
An emotional connection is a bundle of subjective feelings that come together to create a bond between two people.
However, sustaining a strong emotional connection in a marriage doesn’t ‘just happen’.
While we may be able to emotionally connect with our partner easily in the initial phase of the relationship, to build an emotional connection that is sustainable, one requires intentional and consistent effort.
When both partners work, have children, and life is busy, it’s easy to put a couple of pieces of the relationship on the back burner.
I often start out by asking couples if there was ever a time that they did feel an emotional connection in a relationship. Typically they say “yes.”
Then I ask what they perceive was happening in the relationship that allowed them to feel emotionally connected.
Couples often feel overwhelmed at the idea of integrating behaviors that help to sustain an emotional connection.
We, as human beings, often have a negative perception about implementing new behaviors because we perceive doing so will always require us to make a significant effort and change.
However, being intentional about implementing new behavior is the fastest way to create new neural pathways that will allow the new behavior to become more natural.
According to Julie Hani, RN, BSN, BA, CDE, “the book Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson gives practical advice for maintaining the positive. One strategy is to focus on the good for 10–20 seconds, really absorbing and storing the experience in our long-term memory.”
Eventually, with enough repetition, the new behavior will become more automatic. Eventually, the behaviors needed to sustain an emotional connection will become natural.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Kathy Hardie-Williams M.Ed MS NCC LPC LMFT
Relationship Counseling for Families, Couples, Adolescents, and Individuals
I am a Licensed Teacher turned Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in counseling high conflict families, couples, adolescents, and individuals who are ready to embrace a strong sense of self in order to improve their relationships. This is a process that must occur prior to increasing the emotional bond with others and includes identifying what you want, articulating what you want and need, taking ownership for your contribution to the problem, and increasing the capacity to accept and tolerate differences.
However, before you can understand someone else, you must know who you are and what you need. Learning how to listen to your gut and having the courage to follow where it leads enables you to get the life you want and deserve, and you deserve to live your best life.
Knowing what makes you tick lays the groundwork to help you achieve your authentic life. Within each person there is passion. Failing to recognize what that passion is and use it denies a key part of who you are. It impacts everything: relationships, partner choices, and how you spend your time. Sometimes you need help learning how to recognize what you know instinctively.
My clients tell me"I get it".
My objective in working with you is to use a direct approach in helping you identify what keeps you stuck in your personal relationships with yourself and/or others. Whether it is learning to improve your relationships, increase self understanding, clarify your value system, or put your life into perspective, you have the power to take charge of your life and the quality of the relationships you build.
I can help you get there.
I will hear you, relate to the challenges you face, and will help you move past your obstacles so that you can live the life you are meant to live.
(Kathy Ann is also listed in Best Marriage Therapists in Tigard)