Emotional disconnection in marriage

3 Steps to Reconnect When You Feel Disconnected From Your Partner

What can you do right now to make your relationship more romantic?

You could get your wife a diamond necklace. Or maybe you could buy her the Mercedes dream car she’s always wanted.

Sounds like a good idea, right?

But let’s suppose that you haven’t asked your wife a question in five years, so you fail at Love Maps.

Or while you are out on a double date with friends and your wife starts telling a story, you say, “that’s a good story, but you always tell it wrong. Let me tell it.”

So you fail at showing her fondness and admiration.

Later that night she excitedly plops down next to you on the couch and shows you a picture of a romantic getaway in Italy.

“Isn’t this romantic?”

You respond, “will you be quiet? I’m trying to read here!”

So you fail at turning towards her when she tries to connect with you.

Now reconsider that necklace and new car.

Is that going to rekindle the romance?

I don’t think so.

She’ll probably throw the necklace on the ground and use the new Mercedes to drive over it a few times for good measure.

The Micro-Moments of Love

Culture has distorted what makes passion sizzle in a marriage. Advertisements convey the message that a romantic getaway or expensive jewelry is the way to a woman’s heart, but I find the dull moments of relationships are the most significant of all.

There is profound drama in the micro-moments of love. The time when Jack and Susan have dinner together and talk about their days rather than watch TV in silence. Or how Kevin and Kris tenderly touch each other as they pass in the kitchen.

Love is cultivated during the grind of everyday life. It’s the seemingly meaningless little moments of connection that are the most meaningful of all.

In relationships people offer what Dr. John Gottman calls a “bid” for each other’s attention, affection, or support. This can be as insignificant as “please cut the carrots” to something as significant as helping a partner deal with the struggles of an aging parent.

In these moments, we have a choice to turn towards our partner or away from them. If we turn towards our partner, we build trust, emotional connection, and a passionate sex life.

As loopy as it may sound, the passion of romance is enhanced in the supermarket. In the seemingly unrelated relationship question, “do we need milk?” The reply, “I can’t remember. I’ll grab some just in case,” makes a world of difference rather than apathetically shrugging your shoulders.

Dr. John Gottman discovered that couples who divorced an average of 6 years after their wedding turned toward each other 33% of the time in his lab, while the couples who were together after 6 years turned toward each other 86% of the time. That’s a big difference.

The #1 things couples fight about is not about money or in-laws or sex. According to Dr. Gottman, most arguments in relationships are about a failure to connect emotionally.

The Emotional Bank Account

Every time you and your partner turn towards each other, you make a deposit into what Dr. John Gottman calls the Emotional Bank Account. Every connected moment in your relationship builds up a savings of love that can be used during hard times.

If a couple has more positive deposits than negative, they are less likely to distrust each other during hard times. But if their Emotional Bank Account is in debt of disconnection, then trust and intimacy erode away.

Here are three steps to reconnect when you feel disconnected from your partner by investing in your Emotional Bank Account:

  1. Accept Bids for Connection

Dr. Gottman says that “couples often ignore each other’s emotional needs out of mindlessness, not malice.”

The first step to feeling more connected with your partner is to recognize how vital these micro-moments are. This is important not only for the trust in your marriage, but for romance and intimacy as well.

The simple shift of not taking everyday interactions for granted can do wonders for a marriage. Helping out with work around the house is likely to do far more for your relationship than a two week vacation in Tahiti.

Sometimes we miss bids because our partner says it in a negative way. For example, Kim says to her husband, “it never occurs to you to empty the dishwasher, does it?”

James doesn’t hear her bid (“please unload the dishwasher”). Instead, he hears criticism, the first of the Four Horsemen. It’s not surprising when he replies in a defensive manner.

If James would have said, “oh, you’re right. I’m sorry,” and then emptied the dishwasher, he would have scored brownie points and maybe even a sheepish smile from his wife as she realized her tone was unnecessary.

Before you reply defensively to your partner, pause for a second and look for the bid in their words. If you feel bids are constantly wrapped in criticism in your relationship, I’d recommend reading page 162 in The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work.

  1. Understand Each Other’s Love Maps

Often times couples assume their partner feels heard and known. The secret to understanding your partner comes not from mind reading, but rather through the hard work of putting your partner in a position where they can share openly and honestly.

Do you know your partner’s worries and stresses at the moment? What are their hopes and aspirations? What are their goals this year? Are they different from last year?

The key to understanding each other is to:

  1. Ask questions
  2. Remember the answers
  3. Keep asking questions

Getting to know your spouse better and sharing your inner self is a lifelong process. Your partner’s favorite movie might not be the same as it was five years ago.

The better the questions, the larger the emotional investment both of you make. If you want ideas for relationship enhancing questions, go here.

  1. Build a Culture of Appreciation and Respect

Remember when the man interrupted his wife and told her story? Do you think that was building affection and respect in the relationship?

We all have personality flaws. Instead of focusing on your partner’s inadequacies, learn to accept them.

And when you can, express what you cherish about your partner. The idea is to catch your partner doing something right and say, “thanks for doing that. I noticed you unloaded the dishwasher and I really appreciate it.”

Each time you do this, your partner feels emotional connection. As a result, you invest you emotional profits into your relationship’s Emotional Bank Account.

Love is not built on the big vacations or expensive gifts. Often it is the seemingly insignificant moments of connection that are the most significant of all.

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Fight for Your Marriage When Your Spouse Is Emotionally Distant

The East German government built the Berlin Wall in 1961, telling citizens, and the world, that its purpose was to protect against the invasion of fascists. Of course, the wall was really intended to stop massive emigration from East to West Berlin.

Twenty-six years later, in a speech given near the wall, President Ronald Reagan spoke of freedom, reform and openness. He also spoke some memorable words: “If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity … Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

President Reagan did not threaten to tear down the wall, but changes were in the works in Eastern Europe. And in 1989, the wall was opened.

When we feel emotionally threatened in our marriage, we can build walls, too. Not physical walls, but relational walls that are expressed in body language, words and attitudes that help us feel safe. The problem is that those walls don’t allow our spouse into the deepest parts of our hearts and minds, and the emotional distance can cause problems.

What you might see. When your spouse feels threatened, he or she may appear confrontational or argumentative. He or she might build a wall by belittling you, using sarcasm, criticizing or becoming verbally defensive. Some people are aggressive and jealous. They often appear controlling, domineering and selfish.

What you might feel. Your response to any of the actions above may be feelings of loss, hurt or anger. If your spouse is working lots of extra hours or overindulging in a hobby, you could feel that your relationship lacks intimacy or friendship.

When your spouse is emotionally checked out or withdrawn and prone to stonewalling, the situation might feel as if he or she has stopped investing in your relationship. When your husband or wife is no longer open to your influence, you might feel marginalized. When you’re treated with contempt, your attitude may be one of utter disgust or hatred. If your spouse offers no grace, you could feel that he or she is simply done with the relationship.

Regardless of what you observe or feel, the real issue in your marriage is that your spouse has a closed or hardened heart. “ said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ ” (Matthew 19:8). If you notice your mate building emotional walls — that is, having a closed heart — you can still do several things to help strengthen your relationship.

Honor the walls

Keep in mind that your spouse built the wall(s) for a reason — he or she felt unsafe and needs to know you understand the situation. If you attempt to tear down your spouse’s walls instead of allowing him or her to do it, you’ll remove security and hope. It’s sort of like how a drowning person would feel if — as soon as he or she came to the surface — you would plunge that person back under the water.

Caring about the feelings of the person behind the wall should be your top priority. When you recognize that your husband or wife only erects walls when he or she feels insecure, then you can choose to care more about your spouse’s feelings than getting what you want. The well-being of your husband or wife should be the most important thing to you; therefore, the wall can stay as long as it is needed.

Realize how unsafe you have been (empathize)

Though you are not responsible for your spouse’s emotions, acknowledging your role in the deterioration of the relationship is an important part in the healing process. You can also do the work necessary to understand what’s driving your need to break through your husband’s or wife’s emotional walls. Consider meeting with a counselor to work on any emotional walls you’ve put up, such as the fear of being alone, failing in marriage or resentment.

Focus on creating safety

Station yourself as a “sentry” to protect your spouse. The message you want to convey is something like this: I understand there is a wall between us because you feel unsafe. I am going to work on my own weaknesses so that you can eventually feel safe with me. I’ll try to keep discovering what I’ve done to create such an unsafe place for you. I won’t rest until you feel relaxed enough to open up and be yourself around me.

Prepare for spiritual warfare

Satan will attack you. Notice that after God created marriage in Genesis 2:24-25, marriage was under attack in the very next chapter, Genesis 3:1. There isn’t a single verse of separation before Satan goes after what God had created. As the father of lies, he will try to convince you that your marriage “will never work,” “is too hard,” or “would be easier with someone else.” So heed the apostle Peter’s instruction and “be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Trust that God can use this for your good

Healthy individuals do not enjoy suffering, but most adults realize there can be bright spots even in the darkest moments of our lives. This perspective reflects the advice offered in the practical book of James: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3).

Keep your own heart open

More than simply practicing “positive thinking,” you need to rededicate yourself to your marriage relationship. Decide that divorce isn’t an option for you — don’t say the word, don’t consider it as an option, don’t attempt to justify it.

Forgive your spouse for any offense you may hold against him or her. Forgiveness is not easy, and it doesn’t mean forgetting. But it is an intentional decision that will be healthy for you and for your marriage. (For help with this, read Forgiveness and Restoration.)

Establish accountability for keeping your heart open. You need support and encouragement from same-sex friends, family, a counselor, a mentor or a pastor — people who support your choice to fight for your marriage. Even Moses needed help and support (literally): “But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” (Exodus 17:12). Surround yourself with people who want to help you fight for your marriage.

As you and your spouse work to tear down emotional walls between each other, you can experience freshness in your relationship that can lead to deeper understanding, appreciation and commitment.

The Disconnected Marriage

“The key problem I encounter working with wounded, depressed, and unhappy people is a lack of connection…starting from a disconnection from themselves and then with others.” David W. Earle

After 23 years together, Pamela finally reached out for help.

In her application to me she shared, He is not there for me emotionally. We don’t hug, we don’t kiss, we don’t touch. I feel empty and unwanted. I’m not sure how much longer I can take it. I don’t know how to leave and I don’t know how to stay.

But Pamela’s words could be any of the hundreds of other women that reach out to me each month.

She’s lost and doesn’t know what next step to take.

She feels empty and lonely, even though he’s there physically.

She’s in a disconnected marriage and I understand it.

In my marriage to my first husband, if I could have told him what I needed each day to make me feel loved and adored, he would have tried to check off those boxes each day – at least for a while. But he didn’t know how to demonstrate his love for me and I didn’t know how to tell him to do it (and I kind of didn’t want to have to tell him…I wanted it to be more organic than that).

A Molehill Turns into a Mountain

The disconnection we feel in our marriages doesn’t happen in an instant….

Like the moment when your husband tells you he’s been unfaithful to you…and the bottom drops out…

Like the minute you’ve caught him in a lie…and you’re wondering if you even know him at all….

No, a disconnected marriage happens slowly over time. It happens where no one individual issue is a big enough deal to bring up so you let all the little oversights slide…until they end up amounting to a big, gaping hole in the center of your heart.

  • Enough times of working late when he could have chosen to be home with you and the family…
  • Enough times of choosing to numb out in front of the TV or computer when he could have chosen to catch up with you about your goals, fears and dreams…the opportunity to really see and hear you…
  • Enough times of getting angry with you when he was stressed because there was no one else to take it out on…

And before you know it, that molehill is a mountain that’s very difficult to scale and the distance between the two of you if too far to cross.

What I Know

But here’s what I know…..

The distance doesn’t shrink magically on its own; like anything worthwhile, it takes effort and intention.

It takes open, honest, vulnerable communication.

It takes you dropping the stories of all the ways it doesn’t work in order to see the ways it does work.

Now, don’t get me wrong; unlike so many people out there, I do not have an agenda for your life. I have no vested interest in you either saving your marriage or walking away from it; my agenda is only to help guide you back home to who you really are and live a life that feels really good…..

…because even though I don’t know you (yet), I know you deserve a happy life, filled with loving and connected relationships. Want to know how I know that? Because we all deserve that.

Book Your Truth & Clarity Appointment Posted in: How to Fix My Marriage | Tagged with: communication, disconnected, divorce, life coach, life coaching, love, love coach, love him, marriage, my husband, my husband and I are disconnected, my marriage is a mess, my marriage is falling apart, my marriage is over, not in love with him, relationship, separation, there must be more

Ronsisvalle: Getting through to the ‘disconnected husband’

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle Special to FLORIDA TODAY Published 1:06 PM EDT Mar 26, 2019 Couple having relationship problems at home PeopleImages, Getty Images

I see it over and over again in the clinical office.

A couple comes in for marital counseling and I watch as the wife desperately tries to get her husband to engage in the conversation.

After watching her scramble for his attention over the course of an hour or two, it becomes clear to me: we are dealing with a classic case of the disconnected husband.

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle FLORIDA TODAY FILE

The disconnected husband plays his emotional cards extremely close to his chest and makes it a point not to be open with his spouse.

One of the most common signs of the disconnected husband is that he doesn’t reveal or show his actual feelings around anyone, especially his wife.

While she may deeply desire that her husband open up and express his emotions, he seems intent on bottling up what’s inside emotionally and cognitively.

As I watch these predictable scenes play out in the counseling room, I know what will usually follow a disconnected husband’s lack of engagement… his wife’s tears.

She almost always begins to show significant hurt and frustration as she becomes overwhelmed with her lack of ability to get through to her man.

Although you might think this emotional display would encourage the husband to at least respond with a comforting word, the wife’s emotion almost always elicits a deep (sometimes visual) discomfort in her disconnected husband.

He chases his own discomfort with irritation, frustration, criticism, or more withdrawal. This only hurts his wife more and creates deeper emotions that she expresses verbally, which causes more criticism and more withdrawal from the husband.

This pursue-withdrawal cycle is the unhealthy dance of the disconnected husband and his spurned wife.

It’s a negative communication pattern that I see on a consistent basis while counseling couples.

But my hunch is that this is probably a communication style that many of you see playing out in your own marriage every day.

If this scene seems familiar to you and you are indeed stuck in a negative communication cycle with a disconnected man, I have several suggestions that might help you break the negative cycles and begin to see your husband open up in real ways.

Understand your disconnected husband

There is no doubt that there are some men who enter marriage without the skillset to truly connect with their wife.

After all, our culture doesn’t really socialize men to connect emotionally, but instead trains boys to focus on what they can do physically with their body, like play sports or lift weights and what they can do intellectually with their mind, like solve math problems or engineer solutions to problems.

The world of connection and emotion are truly foreign to some husbands and this lack of training typically takes its most significant toll on the marital relationship.

This insight will hopefully give you empathy into your husband’s world, which will hopefully give you more motivation to respond to him with grace.

More: Ronsisvalle: Is civility gone and kindness a thing of the past?

More: Ronsisvalle: The shortest path may not be the best option

More: Ronsisvalle: Practice these four principles for success in 2019

He probably doesn’t know he is disconnected

Most men who are truly disconnected think they are great husbands because they are providing for you and the family.

They gain their sense of self-identity as a husband from working hard, fixing things in the physical environment and being the stable rock in the relationship.

The truth is, your disconnected husband thinks he is doing everything you need, and he just isn’t aware you are craving a deeper, more intimate connection.

He probably doesn’t even understand what deeper connection feels like or looks like in operation.

Again, your insight here into your disconnected husband’s psyche is incredibly important.

The more you can tell yourself the truth about his understanding of a healthy husband, the more you can position his typical response to you as a reflection of his desire to be a good husband.

Affirm his determination to be a good husband

Even though your disconnected husband seems impenetrable emotionally, let’s be clear, you can deeply affect him with your words.

When I say, “affirm him,” I don’t mean say some sappy insincere comments about how hard he is trying “to be a good husband.”

I mean genuinely express admiration and gratitude for what he does. If you are ever going to break through the tough emotional skin of your disconnected husband, you are basically going to have to recognize who he is as a man and value it.

If you want a clue as to how you can sell this to your husband in a believable way, think back to when you were dating and were truly impressed by him.

What did you say that made him light up? What did he do to make you feel special? He still needs to hear these things. Believe it or not, he craves your affirmation and recognition.

Communicate clearly when you connect

It helps emotionally disconnected guys start to feel closer if you can give them a road map to the things that actually make you feel connected.

He needs specific information and education from you about the behaviors that pull you in and make you feel valued.

For instance, say, “I really felt close to you when you made me dinner.” Or “I felt so valued when you told my boss that I was smart.”

Remember, he wasn’t socialized to say these kinds of things. He needs you to coach him on how to speak the language of emotions.

While these strategies will not create a deeply connected man in 24 hours, they will facilitate the kind of interaction with your disconnected husband that over time will allow him to develop the skillset to acknowledge his emotions toward you in very real and tangible ways.

Make the decision today to abandon the unhealthy dance with your disconnected husband and in the end, you will see that he does indeed have the capacity for real connection.

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle is a Licensed Psychologist and the President of Florida Counseling Centers, a psychological services agency that provides counseling to clients of all ages and addictions treatment to adolescents and adults. You can find him on the web at Floridacounselingcenters.com, https://www.facebook.com/LessStressedLife/, https://twitter.com/MikeRonsisvalle

Published 1:06 PM EDT Mar 26, 2019

5 Reasons Someone Close May Become Emotionally Distant

Source: Daxiao Productions/

Do you feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse or partner? Are most of your conversations purely transactional—about the kids, your schedules, or the management of the home? Does your partner seem uninterested in spending quality time with you? Is he or she avoiding intimacy?

Emotional distance (or emotional drifting) is a common phenomenon in relationships. It typically develops slowly, making it easy to miss until the gulf becomes significant. There are numerous reasons emotional drifting occurs; some might have to do with your partner and some with you. Here are five common reasons your partner might be emotionally disengaged, and what you can do about them. (To be clear, there can be other causes of emotional distance, but these are the ones I find most common among the couples I treat.)

5 Causes of Emotional Distance in Couples

1. Your partner craves alone time.

Many couples, especially those with young children, get little or no time to themselves. Some people try to get alone time by putting on headphones or tuning out by immersing themselves in television shows, the Internet, or their phones. If you suspect this is the case, ask your partner if they need alone time and discuss ways they can get it. It’s best to make the arrangement reciprocal and arrange to have time to yourself as well.

2. Your partner is stressed, distressed, or depressed.

People often respond to high levels of stress and emotional distress by withdrawing. If there are obvious stressors in your partner’s professional and/or personal life, ask how they are feeling about them and discuss possible options to reduce or manage stress. If you think they might be depressed, gently suggest they consult a mental health professional. (See The Difference Between Sadness and Depression.)

3. Your partner is losing that loving feeling.

Is your partner not investing time and effort in your marriage, home, or family the way they used to? Have they been avoiding intimacy? Have they been non-communicative and emotionally disengaged for a significant period of time? If so, set up a time to talk. Don’t do it on the fly, so they can be mentally prepared to discuss the relationship. Ask them how they’re feeling about the relationship and whether there are things they would like to see change in order to feel more connected. Make sure you understand their perspective fully before responding. (This is difficult but important.) If they seem unable or unwilling to discuss ways to reengage, or to even have a conversation, you might want to suggest couples therapy.

Emotional distance can also be a symptom of a relational dynamic:

4. A cycle of pursuing and avoiding.

Your partner feels you’re too needy so they take an emotional step back, which makes you feel worried, rejected, or abandoned, and therefore needier, which makes them take another step back, and so the cycle continues. To assess if this kind of dynamic is the culprit in your relationship, take a (temporary) step back yourself and “need” your partner a bit less for a week. If your partner responds by warming up and becoming more engaged and available, then you now know how to break the cycle.

5. A cycle of criticism and withdrawal.

Feeling emotional distance from your partner can really hurt. You might respond by becoming more critical or resentful than you realize, by consistently signaling to your partner, either verbally or non-verbally, that they’re failing or inadequate. Your partner then withdraws, as they fear any effort to interact or engage will open the door to you voicing more criticism or dissatisfaction. Their withdrawal makes you even more distressed, which makes you even more critical and dissatisfied—which makes them withdraw even further. To break this cycle, make sure your communication with your partner follows the 80-20 rule: At least 80 percent of your communications should be neutral or positive and only 20 percent negative or directional (e.g., “It’s your turn to do the dishes”).

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Copyright 2016 Guy Winch

how to survive an emotionally disconnected marriage

Your spouse was always attentive to you; you and your spouse used to spend a lot of time communicating each other’s feelings and thoughts. But now your spouse just can’t be bothered to talk with you. You realize that emotional disconnection is sapping the trust, happiness, comfort, and intimacy in your marriage. When you live in an emotionally disconnected marriage, you both suffer. And feeling emotionally disconnected is a sign of a failing marriage, and it can lead to a series of emotional crises, such as below:

  • Loneliness and depression:

Do you sill remember that you and your spouse vowed to live together forever at your wedding ceremony? But now disenchantment and loneliness become the constant companions, you feel as if you were living alone in your married life. It is a disheartening situation; as you feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse, you feel more and more lonely and depressed.

For more tips on how to stop feeling lonely in your marriage, you might go on to read the post below:

  • Self-doubt:

Self-doubt can paralyze you mentally. When emotional disconnection in marriage becomes a normal state, you can not help doubting yourself. Maybe you doubt whether or not you are a good spouse, whether or not your spouse is willing to communicate his/her emotional needs, whether or not your spouse is suspecting that you are having an affair? … Self-doubt can trigger endless, idle and pointless speculation about your spouse, thereby leading to your paranoia, low self-esteem, and jealousy.

  • Growing distant:

The emotional disconnection in marriage can cause a detrimental snowball effect. The more you attempt to get your spouse to connect (but you receive no response), the more emotionally disconnected you feel. Once this feeling builds up to a high level, you will be discouraged and then give up the thought of sharing more of yourself with your spouse both mentally and sexually.

  • Infidelity:

In an emotionally disconnected marriage, you are inclined to feel that your spouse no longer cares about your needs (your regular sexual needs are also included). To a great extent, being emotionally neglected means being sexually neglected. As you feel lonely and neglected day by day, your resentment and anger towards your spouse will grow stronger and stronger. Coupled with the constant feeling of uncertainty and insecurity, these lingering negative emotions may tempt you to find someone else to meet your emotional needs and even sexual needs; likewise, over time, your spouse may also think about having an extramarital affair to fulfill his/her unmet needs in the marital relationship.

Gain an in-depth understanding of an emotionally disconnected marriage:

Emotional disconnection is never something that happens overnight; it is a slow burn issue that develops over time; although both sides truly engage in emotional distancing behavior, a couple in an emotionally disconnected marriage often fails to recognize it in time. In particular, emotional disconnection often happens to those couples who are too busy with daily chores or all sorts of important matters, such as working, study, and raising children.

When you are feeling emotionally disconnected, maybe you do not fully understand how emotional disconnection is linked to certain relationship problems. However, you have to acknowledge that the more you feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse, the more problems arise.

Emotional disconnection can involve a wide range of issues in life. Although lack of communication is thought to be the most common factor of couples’ emotional disconnection, only when it is mingled with other life and relationship issues (e.g. holidays, illness, caring for each other, loans, the daily grind of looking after children, conflict with in-laws, and so on), it can drive a wedge between you and your spouse.

Let’s talk about how to heal an emotionally disconnected marriage:

Emotional disconnection is never a problem that can fix itself. The longer you wait to tackle this unspoken problem, the more difficult it becomes, and the more hurt you both feel. And as long as you want to keep your marriage alive, you should take action to shake off this dire state as soon as possible.

And here are 4 tips to reconnect with your spouse when you feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse:

(1) Recognize the moments when your spouse needs you:

Many times, couples don’t pay enough attention to meet each other’s deep emotional needs; but generally, they don’t hold malice against each other.

So, the first step to becoming more connected with your spouse is to recognize those micro-moments; this is necessary not only for intimacy and romance but also for mutual trust in the marriage.

Don’t take everyday things that your spouse does for granted. For example, when noticing that your spouse is breathlessly running around emptying bins and cleaning up, don’t stand aside, step forward, and give him/her a hand with it; even though your spouse does not open his/her mouth to ask you to do together, obviously your spouse needs your help at that moment; occasional helping your spouse with everyday chores may even bring more benefits to your relationship than taking him/her on vacation.

(2) Pay attention to your manner of speaking:

In an emotionally disconnected marriage, a spouse may remain unmoved by the other one’s request just because of the speaker’s negative way of expression. For example, when you are shouting to your spouse “You always forget to empty the trash!”, your spouse may pay little attention to what you are saying to him/her, so where does his/her attention go? Most likely your spouse has focused too hard on your tone because your voice is full of reproach. No wonder that your spouse will react in a defensive manner at that moment; but actually, you may not want your tone to make sense, you may just want him/her to hear your words.

In addition, when you are criticized in the same way, you should also avoid defensively responding to your spouse in the heat of the moment. The correct approach is to pause for a while, recall his/her words, and think about what he/she wants you to do ultimately; by this approach, there is a good chance that you will turn the focus to the thing itself; especially if your spouse’s request is constantly wrapped in criticism, you should give yourself a gentle reminder at that moment; in doing so, probably you will feel more relaxed and be more willing to accept your spouse’s request.

Through the explanation above, you may feel the need to improve your manner of speaking.

(3) Find targeted questions that make your spouse interested in a conversation:

Do you often assume that you have known your spouse well? For example, do you understand your spouse’s stresses and worries at the moment? Do you really know his/her aspirations and hopes? Do you feel the change of his/her thinking? Maybe you insist that you can read your spouse’s mind exactly, but mind-reading is not an accurate way to understand each other; to understand your spouse on a deep level, you need to make efforts to put each other in a place where both of you can share honestly and openly.

Even though you have been married for years, there is still a long way to go to understand your spouse and share each other’s inner world. And the majority of emotionally disconnected relationships expose a serious lack of communication; maybe, you might retort that you always maintain verbal communication with your spouse, but you are clear that the patterns of communication have been toxic. So if you really want to survive the emotionally disconnected marriage, you need to foster open communication with each other.

In order to better understand your spouse during communication, it is important to pay attention to 3 aspects when you initiate a conversation with your spouse – asking/answering questions, remembering his/her questions/answers, and keeping asking questions.

In order to better understand your spouse during communication, it is important to pay attention to 3 aspects when you initiate a conversation with your spouse – Asking questions, remembering his/her answers, and keeping asking questions. The process of asking and answering questions is a reflection of the emotional investment that you two make in the relationship. For example, your spouse tends to feel bored with answering repetitive or idle questions, in that situation, he/she will want to end the conversation as soon as possible, and you can hardly expect a positive emotional interaction during this process; instead, if your question is very relevant to what your spouse is concerned about, he/she is very likely to feel the need to communicate with you more, no matter how emotionally distant he/she is in the relationship.

Furthermore, raising a targeted or interesting question and giving an informative answer both require your deep deliberation of a certain issue.

In short, the more openly you communicate with your spouse, the more chances you have of enhancing an emotional connection with your spouse.

(4) Show your spouse respect and appreciation:

Think of times when you interrupted your spouse and then started to express your point of view; or ask yourself whether you have ever used your spouse’s flaws or wrongdoings to get back at him/her. This type of manner is not only impolite but also forms an obstacle to fostering mutual respect and understanding. Unavoidably, everyone has some character flaws, and your spouse is also not exceptional; if you choose to focus on your spouse’s inadequacies/wrongdoings/faults, the relationship tends to deteriorate. To make your marriage thrive, you should not deliberately trip him/her up; instead, you should learn to fully accept who he/she is.

In addition to avoiding disrespectful behavior, you should also consciously make your spouse feel appreciated. For example, when your spouse tells you that you forgot to wash dishes and that he/she has done it already, in that case, you might appreciate him/her for that, rather than take that for granted; and when you catch him/her doing something appropriate for you, you might also say “Thank you, I appreciate your doing.” When your spouse feels that his/her performance is duly recognized, your spouse feels a bit emotionally connected, even though he/she may be still silent at that moment; so showing appreciation should be viewed as a type of sustainable, profitable emotional investment.

Love is not entirely built on the basis of the material, such as family vacation, and pretty gifts. The most significant part of a happy marriage relationship necessarily demands numerous ongoing emotional connections based on respect and appreciation.

The final word:

Communication and emotional connection are two intimately blended aspects of a marriage relationship. When you can communicate with each other smoothly, you don’t have trouble feeling emotionally disconnected. In addition, healthy marriage requires ongoing mutual support, recognition, and compassion, especially during a stressful time. You and your spouse’s feelings do not have to match, but your words and actions should convey acceptance and understanding. To strengthen the relationship bond, you need to make your spouse feel respected and accepted.

Moreover, it is worthwhile seeking professional guidance from an experienced marriage therapist, who can help you clarify your feelings and thoughts, as well as rebuild a bridge to reconnect with your spouse emotionally. And if you want to learn more about how to save your marriage life, you might go on to watch the presentation below to follow the step-by-step guidance by Dr. Lee Baucom, a marriage therapist with 20+ years of experience:

Maybe, you are also interested in the related posts below:

Marriage Help (Stop worrying about what to say.)

What I hear the most in counseling people about relationships is, “What should I say…” when he or she does this or says that.

My pat response is, “Don’t worry about what to say; focus on the emotional state you are in and the emotional state of your partner when you say it.”

The classic miscommunication in marriage occurs when she says something like, “Honey, we need to talk.” I’ve written elsewhere about why this well meaning approach goes awry. The point here is, whether she forces him to talk or not, the likelihood is great that they both end up feeling disappointed and disconnected. The pain of disconnection from someone you love lies at the heart of every argument, cold silence, and resentment you endure in your intimate relationships.

Emotional disconnection is the biggest single factor in divorce. Most divorcees say they just “grew apart,” largely because they “couldn’t communicate.” This is sad because the problem was not about communication. It was about disconnection. Marriage partners are not disconnected because they have poor communication; they have poor communication because they are disconnected. In the beginning of the relationship, when they felt connected, they communicated just fine. They would talk for hours on end. And they communicated well throughout their relationship, whenever they felt connected.

Connection depends on attuning emotional states, which is extremely difficult to do with words. Emotional states attune through interest and caring – one has to be interested and show sympathy for the other, who must, in turn, be receptive to interest and care at that moment. Interest and care, like all emotional states, are conveyed far more by facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice than by words.

The chronic stress of disconnection in marriage, which is a cause of poor communication more than a result of it, stems from a slight difference in the way the sexes experience fear and shame. This subtle difference is inherent in the dilemma, “Do we talk about the relationship or not?” The real reason women usually want to talk about it–beneath the resentment and frustration–is disconnection makes them feel anxious and isolated. The real reason men typically don’t want to talk about it is that her dissatisfaction with him makes him feel like a failure. His shame is too great to allow him to understand her anxiety, and her anxiety keeps her from seeing his shame. When they try to alleviate their feelings of vulnerability in opposite ways–by talking and not talking–all they end up sharing are disappointment and heartache.

This is tragic and unnecessary because they really want to feel connected and they know how to do it. In the beginning of their relationship, she regularly exposed vulnerable feelings (expressed her concerns and worries), and he responded with gut-level support. She fell in love because she felt safe being vulnerable, which made her feel emotionally connected to him. Her belief that he would be there for her quelled all her anxiety. He also fell in love because he felt emotionally connected. She made him feel more or less successful as a lover, protector, and provider, which reduced any threat of failure or inadequacy; she believed in him.

Their best chance of saving their marriage is to return to that state of mutually soothing and empowering connection. This requires understanding each other’s core vulnerabilities and learning how to negotiate them with binocular vision–a dual perspective based on holding both points of view simultaneously.

Because communication is far more about emotional demeanor, body language, and tone of voice than choice of words, regulating your emotional state as you try to communicate is a crucial skill in modern relationships. (If you need help developing emotional regulation skill, ample information is available here. However, you probably do not need to undertake a whole regimen to develop emotional regulation skill, which requires learning new habits. Try this first. Instead of starting discussions with complaints, approach your partner with:

• A desire for connection (This is actually the goal of wanting to “talk about it.”)
• Curiosity about his/her perspective
• Mindfulness that he/she is someone you love and value
• Appreciation of the assets your partner brings to your relationship
• The belief that your partner is a reasonable person, who, if you convey value and respect and give enough information, will at least acknowledge the importance of what you say, even if he/she disagrees with it.

If you can do the above, almost anything you say will be successful and will eventually lead to a compassionate and loving connection that goes beyond words.

In my counseling office, I frequently deal with people who’ve heard the dread phrase, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” How can it happen that a couple who were once thrilled with each other can fall out of love? It seems like a mystery, but it’s not. And, it’s frequently fixable.
Couples fall out of love for three main reasons:
• They don’t understand the difference between infatuation and love,
• They aren’t don’t understand how to grow their love for each other, and/or
• They don’t know what partnership is, or how to do it. Without partnership, there can be no lasting love.
Couples who become competitive and fight about who’s right or wrong can destroy the love they originally had for each other. The partnership way is to focus on cooperatively fixing the problem. What makes love last is an attitude of “I want both you and me to get what we want” in this relationship.
The quickest way to destroy love is to hold on to resentment. Allowing old hurts and grudges to go unresolved is corrosive. Resentment is like rust that eats away at the bonds of your relationship. It’s important to learn to clear up resentment by first recognizing it in yourself, then confessing it and learning to solve the problems that caused it.
Men and women have different reasons for falling out of love. Husbands often disconnect from their wives when they don’t feel the wives are interested in them anymore. Because men often have a difficult time with intimacy, someone at work who is sympathetic and doesn’t make demands can be very tempting.
Wives disconnect because they feel unloved or taken for granted. They complain for a while, then withdraw. Once she gives up on getting caring from her partner, a masseur or yoga teacher who is attentive can make her feel wanted.
Either spouse will be tempted to cheat if the marriage is disconnected, or has sunk into friendship—affection without sex. To mend the relationship, both spouses need to be willing to make it work, to talk openly about what went wrong, to take responsibility for what they did or didn’t do to make the marriage work. This takes emotional maturity, which is the ability to rise above your immediate wants and emotional reactions in order to have a reasonable discussion rather than a fight. Married couples also need support for their marriage—other couples who can help them through rough times.
Love also changes over time, and if you don’t understand the change, it can be scary. It’s easy to feel romantic when you live separately and date each other, because every moment spent together is special. From the moment you begin to live together, such romantic moments are no longer automatic. Instead, much of your time together is spent on more mundane things: doing laundry, washing dishes, paying bills, and going to work. Although this can be new, exciting and fun at first, as soon as the initial newness of living together wears off, such everyday things cease to feel exciting and romantic, and you may find yourself feeling worried that your partner no longer cares as much or is as excited to be with you.
If you react negatively to the changes instead of handling them, you can damage your relationship beyond repair.
Dr. Romance’s 3 Signs You’re Headed for Divorce
1. You aren’t fighting—but you aren’t communicating. If you’ve been fighting, or dread fighting, moving into a phase of not talking meaningfully at all can feel like a relief—but it could be a sign that you’ve both given up on being understood. When this happens, divorce is often the next step if you don’t get counseling and figure out how to talk to each other without fighting.
2. No sex. While sex in long-term relationships isn’t the easy, self-igniting excitement it was in the beginning, it’s still the heartbeat of your relationship. If you haven’t learned how to keep your sex life alive, and it sputters out, you open a wound in the relationship that invites an affair. If you haven’t had sex with your partner in a while, start talking about what’s not working—or divorce could be the solution.
3. You’re only parents, not partners. If you have focused so much on being a family and raising your kids, and let your couple relationship go, you may find that you’ve lost your couple connection completely. This is why so many couples break up as soon as the kids are grown (or even before) Your man and wife relationship is vital—it’s the foundation your family is built on. Don’t get so into your role as parents that you forget to be partners.
There are ten most common ways couples behave that ruin their relationships. The following list shows you what not to do.
Dr. Romance’s 10 ways to ruin your relationship:
1. Pick the wrong partner for the wrong reasons: No matter how charming your partner is, if he or she’s a player, an out-of-control spender, a con artist, an alcoholic/addict or violent, no amount of love on your part will fix the problem. Don’t try. The minute you find out there’s a Fatal Flaw, end it. Find a less charming, but more upstanding, healthy person to love. If you’ve been with this person a long time, you might not want to give up. You can try an intervention, but it’s tough.
2. Nag/scold/bitch/yell when things don’t meet your expectations. You have to take care of yourself, and find a way to solve problems and motivate your partner to work with you. Partnership is the name of the game, not “I want you to take care of me, and I’ll throw a temper tantrum if you don’t.” You’ll get a lot more of what you want if you ask directly and simply, and motivate with affection, humor and fun. Celebration + Appreciation = Motivation.
3. Do it all yourself. Lots of people try to fill in all the gaps by doing whatever their partner isn’t doing—all alone. If he can’t keep a job, getting successful on your own could be a good thing for you, but it won’t save the relationship. If she won’t be responsible about money or discipline, doing it all yourself will work for a while, but you’ll wind up being seen as a control freak, and hated. If your partner won’t help around the house, or with the kids, doing it all yourself (plus your job) won’t save the relationship either. Very early in the relationship, give your partner the room pitch in and help. If nothing is forthcoming, ask directly (don’t just whine or hint) for what you want. If your mate doesn’t step up, and won’t discuss what would help, then you’re probably the only one in the relationship, and it’s not going to work.
4. Make assumptions that your partner thinks the way you do, and then get angry when he or she doesn’t. If you don’t learn how to communicate, and find out what your partner thinks, you won’t be able to get along. The three most important words in a relationship are: “tell me more.”
5. Blow sex out of proportion. If sex is either too important, or not important enough to you, the relationship won’t have any juice, and won’t last. Sex is one more form of relationship communication. You and your partner need to work it out together. If you have hang-ups or unrealistic expectations about sex, and won’t address them, you won’t have a lasting relationship.
6. Be out of control with money. If you’re either too controlling or too out of control with money, you’ll wind up fighting endlessly about it, and the arguments will suck the joy and love right out of the relationship. Money is an important, inevitable part of a relationship. It’s just math. Get over yourself and learn to deal with it like a grownup.
7. Hate yourself and be too self-conscious. If you don’t like yourself, your partner will feel it, and eventually get tired of trying to love you when you feel unlovable and fend off affection and compliments.
8. Keep going out of bounds: If you’re struggling with compulsive behavior such as overeating, gambling, drugs, alcohol or spending money, and you keep breaking promises, you destroy the trust in your relationship, and eventually the love. Get it under control, or get proper treatment before getting into a relationship.
9. Be miserable, negative and critical. If you whine, complain, are depressed or feel sorry for yourself too often, you’ll be too much of a downer for your partner to handle. Learn to count your blessings, give compliments, and look on the bright side at least 75% of the time. You’ll get what you focus on, and if you focus on misery, you’ll be miserable alone.
10. Don’t listen. If you don’t care about what your partner thinks, wants and feels, you’ll cut yourself off from being loved. Listen to what your partner says, and learn to recognize the other person’s style (even non-verbal.) If you just go on what you’re thinking and feeling, you’ll be missing all the clues about what makes your other half happy. Both of you need to be happy for it to work, and both of you need to cooperate to make a successful relationship.
If your sex life is dying or dead, it doesn’t have to be fatal to the relationship. You can re-invigorate it.
Dr. Romance’s 4 Tips on Jump-Starting Your Sex Life
Has your sex life gone to sleep? No matter what the old wives’ tales say about it, there’s no reason not to have sex in long-term relationships. Sex not only will keep your love energized, it’s also fun exercise, a great stress-releaser, and aerobic: it raises your heart rate and your respiration—and you don’t even notice you’re working hard.
Here’s how to make it easy and fun:
1. Relax.
Relaxing allows you to be more aware of your sexual energy, enhances sexual feelings, and frees you up to respond sexually. If you’re too stressed or tired at the end of the day, Allow time for morning sex when you are still relaxed from sleep, or after a nap.
2. Lighten Up
Because of media influence, most couples have an exaggerated, stressful image of sex. To have more fun, focus on having fun, instead of meeting a goal. Some sex encounters go well, some don’t, so have a sense of humor. Spend more time giggling, talking and being silly and less time under pressure. A lighter attitude makes sex more fun.
3. Communicate
The best beginning for a lovely sexual encounter is a good, honest and open conversation. When you were new lovers, you talked and sex was easy. In a busy life, it’s easy to get disconnected. Frequently make time to “catch up” with each other over an unhurried dinner or breakfast. Express your hopes and dreams, clear the air, and you can both relax. From there, it’s not such a long distance into the bedroom.
4. Be Flexible
Physical agility can be helpful, but emotional flexibility will really improve your sex life. The longer you and your partner are together, the more you need options like: A Quickie, Stealth Sex (hiding out from the kids or roommates), Romantic Sex, Nostalgic Sex (recreate early dates) Make-up Sex (after an argument), Comfort Sex (when one of you is sad or stressed), Relaxing Sex (no pressure, no hurry), Reassuring Sex (when a partner is insecure), or Fantasy Sex (playacting)
Intimacy is the art of making your partner feel understood and accepted. When this feeling is created, barriers fall. Gentle touch, eye contact a gentle sense of humor and the right words all create the atmosphere. Positive comments on your partner’s looks or the day’s activities positively will also help. Couples disconnect when they don’t feel interested in each other anymore. To reconnect, make an effort to listen and understand each other’s’ needs and wants.
The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed. If you really want to restore the marriage, begin not by complaining, but by seeking to understand your partner. Once the connection is there, you can begin to work out the issues.
It’s pretty common these days for couples to sign prenuptial agreements, but I’d like to see a new trend of couples making the following promises instead.
Dr. Romance’s recommended relationship promises:
I agree not to argue, yell, shout, or fight with you. If we have a disagreement, we’ll discuss it like a business deal, focused not on who is right or wrong, but on what will fix the problem. If there’s any problem we can’t solve together in three days, we’ll go see a marriage counselor.
I agree to be honest, even if I know you won’t like it. There’s a kind way to say what I need to say, and I’ll figure it out.
I agree to work with you and view you as my equal partner. We will focus on partnership, cooperation and team building.
I wish you a loving relationship that will make all your dreams into reality.
Author Bio:
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page); Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage and her newest, Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes “Happiness Tips from Tina”, an e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance Blog.” Online, she is “Dr. Romance” with columns at Divorce360.com, Wellsphere.com, and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC news. She tweets @tinatessina and is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina and http://www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog