Relationship Drifting Apart? Take These Steps to Reconnect
When Sarah and John met, he worked during the day and played in a band at night; she was working towards her masters. Spending time together was easy and fun. They made each other laugh. They couldn’t get enough of each other.
Fast forward ten years. Sarah and John are having a hard time making ends meet financially. They both work. They have two kids who are active in sports and have a lot of friends. They have a dog. John likes to relax by playing music with his friends; Sarah likes spending time outside.
Lately it has become easy for John and Sarah to lose sight of each other as the kids, careers, and hobbies they both want pull them in many directions. Sarah thinks John seems distracted; John says Sarah works too much.
Many of us recognize parts of John and Sarah’s relationship in our own lives—we prioritize demands made on our time and sometimes set aside our own needs, like reconnecting with our partner after a busy day. When we disconnect, it becomes harder to read each other and misunderstandings begin cropping up. We start to feel the absence of those special moments of intimacy that once made our partner so important to us.
If you feel your relationship drifting apart, try these steps to reconnect with your partner.
Talk about it
In all relationships there are ups and downs—moments when your commitment to each other seems to color everything you do, and moments when other areas in life monopolize your focus. Taking a few minutes to talk with each other about how you’re both feeling in the relationship can help fortify your commitment.
Letting your partner know that you want to reconnect can also be helpful in breaking the ice.
Sometimes you’re both distracted. All it takes is one of you addressing a growing issue to benefit you both.
Many of us have learned firsthand from past relationships that it’s often best to communicate when both people are feeling calm and open. When we feel angry or frustrated it can be hard to remember how much we truly care about the other person.
One way to start building a bridge back to your partner is to let him know you want to understand where he’s coming from. When you feel safe and understood, you’re a better communicator and are better at compromising.
Sort through your own feelings
Many of us have had fights with people we love about things that seem silly—leaving a light on, forgetting to pick something up at the store, and so on. Often, the conflicts caused by such minor events are not so silly. Forgetting to buy bread could be the final straw heaped on top of your partner’s building frustration.
We often carry half-realized ideas about relationships and intimacy from childhood into adulthood that affect us in quiet ways.
So what are you really upset about? If you’re brooding about something, it can help to think about the “why.” Even if you’re still frustrated afterward, bringing that sense of self-awareness into a discussion with your partner can infuse a difficult situation with much-needed clarity and thoughtfulness.
Feeling disconnected from your partner can often go hand-in-hand with a diminished belief that your partner is truly there for you. Sharing your feelings and having your partner empathize with those feelings is an important building block of trust. Doing small things for each other can also help rebuild trust by showing that you understand and care about each others needs.
So, if you’re feeling disconnected, you could try taking a few minutes in the morning or at night to check in with your partner. Ask, “How are you?” “How was your day?” “What are you looking forward to?” When you take time to talk together without an agenda, it feels less like having a meeting and more like spending time with someone you deeply care about.
Rebuild your connection
Marriage counseling can be a safe way to start these conversations. Through marriage counseling, you have an objective party to help you express your feelings to one another in a safe way. You can learn communication skills so that you both feel heard, understood and accepted. This builds a foundation for intimacy and connection with one another.
Research shows that marriage counseling is most effective when you start to drift apart, to learn skills to maintain connection vs. waiting until marriage problems have been deeply set in for years. Start a dialogue with your partner today.
The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples provides an opportunity for you and your spouse to benefit from learning the basics of strong, connected marriages, no matter how long you’ve been married. If marriage disconnection is an issue for you, this can be a helpful tool to get you back on track together. This can be a great resource to bring in with you to couples therapy. Click here to view more details.
The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples is designed to help you embark on marriage with a strong relationship skill set. We encourage you to strengthen your relationship foundation BEFORE you tie the knot – to pack your toolbox for the inherent ups and downs of life. This can provide insight for discussion in premarital counseling. Click here to view more details.
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