Are you feeling disconnected in your relationship? Feeling lonely and married is often confusing and isolating. Both partners feel misunderstood, disappointed, and unhappy.
Does this sound like you?
You are not alone. However, there are thoughtful, routine ways both of you can reconnect as a couple to fulfill the original hopes you had for your life together.
1. Be Willing to Talk
The first step towards reconnection? A willingness to sit down and talk. Schedule a time when you can have 15 to 20 minutes without distractions of phone or kids to talk about your day. These are referred to as RELAXING CONVERSATIONS. A time to connect around stressors and events outside of the relationship. It is a time for creating an us moment and ritual of connection. It is not a time for “fixing” our partners problems but to let them know you are here for them, and they are not alone. As you become more comfortable with just sharing your day and concerns you may include items that have been bothering one or both of you for a while. There may be lots of built-up frustration but have the discussion without getting back into the conflict. When you do have the talk, don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Stay calm, focused, and on point. But most importantly, make sure you are speaking from a place of care and cooperation, not resentment or anger. Later you can advance to a “State of the Union Address” which may be schedule weekly and assess what has gone well between you the previous week as well what might have been handled better. Again, this is to process the week, not an opportunity to get back into an argument.
2. Listen to Each Other
You both need to hear what the other has to say. Listen without overreacting and shutting the other down. Otherwise, how will you reconnect with understanding?
You may disagree with each other as to why things are difficult. Life partners often do. However, you should try to remain open-minded and curious. Be willing to at least hear each other out. By the end of the discussion, you should have identified some key reasons as to why you are lonely and married. The goal is to listen for “understanding” rather listening to prepare for your side of the debate.
• Is work is keeping either of you away for long time periods?
• When you do have relaxation time, do you choose to spend it together?
• Are you intimate often, or hardly at all?
• Are you businesslike or more like roommates?
• Do you experience spontaneous moments of tenderness or love?
3. Make a Plan
Once both of you share, make a plan that provides structure for how you’ll practically reconnect. Set goals and relationship routines for yourselves. For example:
• Schedule date nights routinely.
• Sit down to dinner together each night with as few distractions as possible
• Go to bed at the same time together more often than not.
• Plan out one new activity or location you both would enjoy trying together.
Remember, make these goals reasonable. For instance, if it’s not possible to have dinner together every night because of work or some other commitment, plan that out ahead of time. Goals can be adjusted as needed, but remember, when you do make goals, stick to them. The key is to make each other feel considered and connected to the choices you make together. A major tip that should be part of your plan is to connect without having a screen between you.
4. Do More Things Together
One of the best way to create bonds between two people is through shared experiences. This is true in both the professional world and in your personal lives. Luckily, there are lots of options available for the two of you. They don’t have to break the bank either. For example:
• Take a long walk or hike.
• Attend a free concert or recital.
• Go for a run or to the gym together.
• Play board games.
• Do yard work or gardening.
• Volunteer for a favorite cause.
If you are interested in being more adventurous, look into what is available in your community. You’ll likely discover a variety of events, museums, restaurants, festivals, farmer’s markets, etc. Include tablets, laptops, music players, and other electronic devices as well. Reconnection has less to do with technology and more to do with intention. Improve how well you pay attention to each other. Show that you are both present and engaged. Make interacting with each other the priority over social media or work emails.
5. Ditch the phones:
Phones are simply a distraction from that objective. When you are planning an activity, make sure you agree to either leave the phones at home or turn them off while together. This demonstrates to your partner that you are aware that your relationship is more important than a status update and are willing to actively prevent interruptions.
It’s not unsurprising that many couples feel both lonely and married in today’s world. With the pressure of work, family obligations, and a million distractions, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important. If you are both still struggling to reconnect, consider work with a couple’s counselor. He or she can help guide you both towards a more connected and loving relationship.