“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” — Cynthia Ozick
Consider this interesting research finding: Couples counseling that focused mainly on improving couples communication and problem-solving skills helped reduce negative patterns of communication but did not lead couples to feel emotionally closer to one another (emotional intimacy didn’t increase).
Think about it this way: If you feel there’s a void in your marriage or relationship, and if you focus solely on reducing the negatives that exist—while undeniably helpful in reducing a certain amount of marital and relationship distress—that void may persist.
More is needed to increase the intimacy you and your spouse/partner desire.
Relationship Help: Questions to get you moving in the right direction
The sharing of positive intentions and feelings is one way couples can bridge their emotional divide and feel closer.
In order to prime your mind toward the positives, start by asking yourself the following:
- What is it about your partner that you admire and respect? (Brainstorm a list without censoring yourself.)
- Which specific characteristics that initially drew you to your partner might you now be overlooking?
- What is it about your partner that you would never change, under any conditions?
- If you’re planning a family, which personality traits and values does your spouse/partner have that you hope your children possess?
Answering these questions is a good starting point. The next step is to invite your spouse/partner to answer the same (or similar) questions and then to share your responses with each other!
Remember, shared gratitude goes a long way in reigniting and maintaining intimacy. Notice the emotional atmosphere this type of sharing creates.
Periodically revisiting these questions (and others you might come up with) can help you stay mindful of all that works about your marriage/relationship.
If you have a strong emotional connection with your partner, I bet you’re already doing some of what is suggested above, even if you’re unaware of it—keep it up!
Here’s to protecting the sanctuary of your marriage/relationship.
Rich Nicastro, Ph.D.