Every relationship has its ups and downs. If you are reading this article, perhaps you feel disconnected to your partner or are familiar with the “down” part of the curve. Feeling disconnected at times is normal, especially in long-term relationships.
If you feel disconnected from your partner, these are some ways that could help you reconnect:
Novelty Speak to your partner about introducing something new into the relationship. Doing different activities from those that you are used to is something that you can implement during the weekend (e.g. go to a music show, comedy show, plan a picnic in park, explore a city nearby) or during the week (e.g. going for a walk after dinner, read a book together, play a board game instead of watching tv, etc). If novelty in the bedroom is something that you are looking for, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Checking in A simple text such as “how is your day going so far?” or a call, not only displays that you are reaching out, but tells the other person you are thinking about them. This is particularly helpful if your schedule and your partners’ differ and you don’t have much time to interact during the day, or if you and your partner are in a long distance relationship.
Touch Physical touch and affection are extremely important in relationships if you don’t want to feel like you are living with a roommate or in order to feel special after things have cooled down. Touch time can be incorporated literally anytime and anywhere, a random hug while someone is cooking, holding hands while walking, or a kiss before falling sleep.
Moment without electronics Putting the phone down while the other person is communicating something important sounds obvious doesn’t it? However, it might be harder than it sounds, especially if someone feels the need to mentally check out or escape the situation while being part of a fight. Putting the phone on the side for a bit shows that you respect the other person and you’re interested in listening to what they have to say. Instead of the phone being the barrier between you, disconnecting from the virtual world for a second will help you connect and be present in the moment. Make it a habit to have at least 20 minutes a day of face-to-face interaction, it could be in the mornings when you both wake up, before going to sleep, or during dinner time.
Compliments Who does not like them? Not always the case, but something common about the clients that I’ve worked with that are recovering from infidelity is the idea that “the other” made them feel special while their partner seemed absent or detached. Remember how many compliments where shared when you first started dating…? Why stop? Communicating what we like about our partner can go a long way.
Gratitude Similar to compliments, everybody likes to feel appreciated and valued. If your partner has been working hard in order to provide or contribute financially, thank them and tell them that you notice it. Likewise, if you come home and the house is clean or your partner cooked dinner, don’t take it for granted, show that you are grateful.
Communication If you are not content or something is off in your relationship, it is better to communicate it instead of playing a guessing game with your partner or waiting until things get worse. If you are honest about how you feel and your partner is able to be open to your feedback, there will be space to learn, grow, or make modifications as a couple.
These suggestions are not intended to “fix” the problem when the issues are more serious or deeply rooted e.g. abuse or infidelity, or when you are confident that you do not want to be part of the relationship. If the disconnection happens often or if it has been present for months or years, couples therapy could be a good idea.
Remember, being in a relationship is a constant work in progress, where the people involved need to nurture and water the “plant” or “relationship” in order for it to flourish.
Stephanie Páez, M.A., LMFT-A is a bilingual Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate practicing in Austin, Texas.