Once couples begin to slide down the slippery slope of feeling disconnected, it can sometimes be hard for them to see a way out. Although they frequently look to the advice of a counselor to help them reconnect and for other answers on their path of healing their marriage, there are times when I feel the need to refer them back to their own insight into their marriage. This is most likely to be the case and to work when there are not other serious issues that are getting in the way of the reconnection such as infidelity or betrayals which will need to be worked on simultaneously or before reconnection can occur.
So what insight into your own marriage might I be referring to? Well you were able to connect with your partner at least once, and may very well have reconnected with them on multiple occasions throughout your relationship as regular life or special circumstances created distance between you. My question is, how have you connected in the past? You may have connected over volunteering together for a cause that is meaningful to the both of you, or by exchanging quips about each others favored sports team over beer and a game. Other people mention some of the romantic gestures they used to engage in such as love notes and date nights. It doesn’t matter what the activity is- within normal and legal limits of course (sorry my previous work as a counselor in juvenile justice makes me feel the need to identify legal activities and not ones in which people bond over committing crimes or murdering together! lol) but that it is something that you have found to work for you in the past. Why recreate the wheel when you can start with some of the tried and true.
In certain circumstances this may not work as well as hoped. For instance, sometimes one or both individuals in the couple have changed so drastically over the period of time since the relationship began that these same behaviors will not have the same impact. This is something you will need to determine. You will also need to make sure that they will be received as genuine and not as something you are doing just to get back into the good graces of your spouse. Many times I hear one partner say that the behaviors just don’t seem genuine because it doesn’t acknowledge all of the problems that the couple currently is going through (this is often the case with love notes or letters, in which case be careful to word them genuinely). Another frequent request, and rightfully so, is to only engage in behaviors that you feel you would be able to continue on a long term basis so it does not build up your spouse only to let them down when you cease the behavior. Again, as stated earlier you will also need to determine if it is a simple case of drifting apart due to life circumstances or if there are bigger issues that will need to be worked on.
It is also important to mention that these should be activities or behaviors that promote positive communication between you and your spouse. The movies would not be a good choice unless the both of you really enjoy discussing the plot line, special effects, etc in detail afterwards. Make sure it is something that both people enjoy and focus on each other while you are together. The point of it is to communicate, show understanding, and caring towards one another as well as show your good qualities and look for the qualities you fell in love with in your spouse. Next week I will discuss some more ways to work on reconnecting with your spouse.