Reconnecting With The One You Love
Do you ever find yourself looking at your partner and wondering where the spark went? Domestic life can become so routine with work, kids, and household maintenance taking all our time and energy. Even if we do manage to have a date night or special time together, it may still feel difficult to talk about anything other than what’s happening externally – again work, community, family, plans etc. We may find ourselves reminiscing about how we used to laugh together, wondering what happened to us. Resignation may even creep in – is this what happens to ALL relationships? Are we doomed? NO!
So how do we reconnect?
If we look at couplehood from a neurobiological and attachment perspective such as discussed in Stan Tatkin’s ‘Wired for Love’, we see that this relationship is the secure base from which we live our lives. This places a high importance on ‘separation & reunion rituals’. When you have been apart – whether a week-long business trip, a day at work, or an hour at the gym. Take the time to stop what you are doing when your partner returns, look them in the eye, and say hello. Even better if you can embrace, belly to belly, until you feel your bodies relax. This simple act activates the parasympathetic nervous system, communicating to the brain ‘I am safe here.’
Knowing what’s important
Another ritual that helps build connection is sharing and asking your partner about something meaningful that happened that day (or since you’ve last spoken). Try to find out what the event meant to them and how they felt about it. Here is where we connect emotionally. If your partner were to say “my boss was completely unreasonable and yelled at my co-worker”, you might empathize “OMG they yelled?!” then ask “Were you scared, shocked, angry?” Here is where you might learn something about your partner’s insides. We all make meaning out of the events in our lives, and each person’s meaning of the same event might be quite different. Also knowing something important to them that will be happening the next day shows your interest and builds a sense of relational security.
Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Studies have shown that when we appreciate people in our lives, we feel closer to them. Make a daily ritual of verbally appreciating your partner and include why it is meaningful to you. For example, “Thank you for doing the dishes before we go to bed. I imagine sometimes you are tired, and your efforts allow me to have a clean kitchen which helps me have a clearer mind to start a new day.” Or “I really appreciate how you ask the neighbors if they want help with their yard. It shows me that you genuinely are a caring and generous person, and I feel proud to be with you.”
Ask for acknowledgement
A game that is nice to play sometimes is “I would like to be appreciated for…” This has several effects: first, you tell your partner about something meaningful for you that might have been unnoticed, so they can be aware of it. Secondly, they get to learn what kind of things are important to you, which builds understanding, intimacy, and the possibility for them to notice what might be important for you in the future.
While these are just a few of many suggestions, please know you do not have to settle for disconnection. Leaning toward vulnerability is a basic solution to this problem. Sometimes the simple phrase spoken softly “I want to feel closer to you, will you help me?” can open the door to deeper connection.