Every couple begins their relationship with the idea and thought that they will love each other, be there for each other, communicate with each other and meet each other’s needs. In other words, that they will be “connected.” For many, however, this connection may not last past the first year of marriage. It is surprising and shocking to realize that the sizzling, fun and romantic connection is gone. For others, it is the slow drip of unmet needs and expectations, the busyness of family and careers, and the little hurts that aren’t healed that bring them over time to say, “I love him/her, but I’m just not ‘in love’ with him/her.”
SIGNS OF DISCONNECTED RELATIONSHIP
Not all of these signs have to be true to classify your relationship as disconnected, but if the majority of them are, the chances are that you and your partner have emotionally disengaged and moved apart. You are disconnected.
- Anger. There is underlying anger in all of your interactions. It may sometimes erupt like a volcano of anger, spewing hurtful words or accusations. On the other hand, it may just seethe and never explode, but It is no less harmful in that it prevents any heart- to heart connection. Anger drives most of the rest of the signs of disconnection.
- Public Bashing. Taking a “dig” at your partner in front of others indicates that you are taking the opportunity to bash them and perhaps embarrass them. In no world can this be loving behavior!
- Defensiveness. The insecurity of not knowing where you stand in your relationship can create a defensive attitude. You become easily offended even when no offense was intended.
- Lack of Priority. As the saying goes, “Don’t treat someone as a priority if they treat you as an option.” It can seem that any and everything comes before your relationship…even “good” things like children or exercise or volunteer causes. These things that are good in and of themselves can become excuses not to put in the effort that a healthy relationship requires.
- Okay, so there’s no such word, but just like a porcupine, you are prickly and irritable. No one, not even your spouse can get close to you. And if you are both porcupining, there is no way that you can connect as a couple!
- No Grace. We all fail at times. Even in the most connected of marriages we can hurt and disappoint each other. To fail to grant understanding and forgiveness – grace- to each other exhibits a hardness of heart and sure disconnection.
- An attitude of superiority in one or both of you is very hurtful to your connection. One of you treats the other as “less than” yourself. You are condescending and speak down to your mate as if they are a child and you are the adult.
- In a disconnected relationship, one or both of the partners is highly critical of the other. This criticism is not the healthy feedback that helps an individual grow, but a often-times harsh and negative remarks about one’s being or behavior.
- It is easy to get busy with household chores, the kids, yardwork, etc. when you are seeking to avoid real connection with your partner. While all of these things, again, are good things in and of themselves, when they are used as an excuse to avoid your partner, then preoccupation with them becomes damaging to your connection.
- Hooked on The Internet. Social media is the perfect place to hide from real, human connection. It can become a place for you to connect with others instead of connection with your partner.
- “It takes two, baby, it takes two!” There is no way to connect if one or both of you shut down and refuse to engage in conversation. Sometimes this happens because you or your partner feel threatened or confused. The end result is the same – disconnect.
- Lack of Empathy. When your partner achieves success, you don’t celebrate with them. When they display emotion, you are unmoved. You have become indifferent and apathetic.
- No Transparency. You have stopped sharing your struggles, your thoughts and your feelings.
- No Sex. You always turn down your partner’s sexual advances and avoid sex.
- No Fun or Romance. You no longer have “date nights” in which you spend time together, just the two of you. There is no fun or enjoyment of one another.
HOW TO RECONNECT AND DEEPEN CONNECTION
Reconnecting is simple, but it is not easy! You have to be willing to do a few simple things, even when you don’t feel like it. If you will do the things that deepen connection between two people, even if you don’t feel like it, you will find that slowly, but surely, you will be closer to your partner and deeper in love than ever before. What are these simple, but not easy, actions?
- Make your relationship a priority. How do you do this? Make it a priority on your calendar and schedule time for daily conversation, date nights, couple vacations, etc. Make it a priority in your daily routine by sending fun or loving texts, helping with chores so you both can relax sooner, etc. It’s the little things that really build connection and affection between you.
- Have a daily dyad. It is so important that you have check in with each other on a daily basis. In LoveRecon this is called a “dyad.” It is sitting face to face, making good eye contact, sitting in open body position (no crossed arms or legs) and sharing about your day or something that you appreciate or admire about each other. It can include sharing highs and lows, expressing feelings and current wants and needs with each other as well. The key is to “dyad daily.”
- Create Couple Rituals. These are simple, but powerful acts that become part of the fiber of your relationship. They are consistent acts of kindness and consideration that build connection. Kindness has been defined as “love in action.” Examples:
- He gets up first and makes the coffee and brings it to her.
- You both shut down the TV and internet and go to bed together.
- Kiss each day before leaving for work and when you return.
- She plugs in his phone to the charger each night.
- He makes sure that her car always has gas.
- Read spiritual or inspirational books or articles together.
- Date night is scheduled and protected.
- You have a daily dyad as described above.
There are so many things that you could do, but make your rituals your rituals. Find what is meaningful to you and your partner. Remember, kindness is the key, so look for ways to be kind and you will discover new rituals for this season of your life and relationship.
- Draw healthy boundaries. To even have a healthy relationship and do the things that build connection, you have to have boundaries. For instance, what good is setting a date night if you allow others things to interfere? You will need to learn to say “no” to anything that does not honor your commitment to each other and the priority of your relationship. A couple of questions to ask yourself might be:
- “Does this work for or against our relationship”
- “Do I have complete buy-in from my partner on this?”
A good place to begin setting boundaries for most couples is phone and internet usage and work at home. Think about your habits and time spent on the phone or the internet, even if it is for work, and evaluate them in light of the two questions above.
- Be each other’s cheerleader! It’s a tough world at times and there is plenty of criticism and negativity. Refuse to allow it to creep into your relationship. Make your relationship a “safe place” to give and receive encouragement and validation. Tell each other how proud you are of each other. Acknowledge the effort they make for your relationship and for your family. Give each other love and respect. Recognize and appreciate what your spouse brings to your life and to your relationship. The key is to express it! Let them hear it.
Do these five simple things and you will begin to reconnect and fall deeper in love. If you are unable to do these on your own because of unresolved issues, such as anger, then you will want to seek help through relationship coaching, marriage seminars or retreats or counseling. Remember #1 above- “Make your relationship a priority” – and do whatever it takes to make your relationship work. You will be glad that you did!