There is often a central theme that cuts across the different marital complaints and relationship problems that bring couples to couples counseling:
Almost all are struggling with a loss of emotional intimacy—they no longer feel a deep, fulfilling connection to one another.
How can we love someone so deeply yet struggle to remain emotionally connected to this person?
While many factors can lead to a breakdown in intimacy, let’s turn our attention to how you can enhance the emotional connection that is central to marriage and committed relationships.
7 Paths to Greater Emotional Intimacy:
1. Being clear about what makes you feel emotionally safe and communicating this with your spouse/partner;
2. Realizing that it isn’t your spouse/partner’s job to meet all of your needs (an “I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it” attitude has undone many marriages and will only lead to frustration and strain your marriage/relationship);
3. Appreciating and acknowledging the effort your spouse/partner makes, even when s/he misses the mark;
4. Temporarily placing your needs on hold from time to time in order to make your spouse or partner a priority;
5. Leaving your “self” (the recognizable you) at times in order to step into your partner’s emotional world—doing your best to understand her/his perspective (even when you disagree with it!);
6. Remembering to nurture your own interests and desires (as well as your spouse’s/partner’s);
7. Challenging and bringing out the best in each other (being respectful when giving each other feedback and keeping your ego in check so that you can be open to, receive and grow from your partner’s feedback).
Once you share the above list with your partner, the challenge is to find ways to incorporate each of the above points into your marriage/relationship—turning these relationship tips into tangible behaviors.
And don’t forget that the emotional connection that is so important to a fulfilling relationship is seldom steady. There may be days when you simply wake up in a bad mood (for whatever reason) and need extra emotional space from your mate, and at other times, you’ll feel the need for extra support and emotional closeness.
So don’t expect continual emotional bliss, but you also shouldn’t settle for extended periods of emotional disconnection.
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Dr. Rich Nicastro