When marriages fracture, couples often attribute the failure to conflict or poor communication, but relationship experts say this is rarely the case. They claim there is a bigger, more insidious reason. Emotional distance is the guilty party when most marriages flatline.
Emotional Distance In A Marriage
Everyone wants to feel supported and loved by their partner, but that's often forgotten when issues arise. Instead of turning toward each other, seeking to communicate their needs and feelings in a healthy way to garner the affection they want and need, they distance themselves from their partner instead. Another way that emotional distance comes into play is during and after an argument or when major challenges arise. People get caught up in the blame game rather than looking at the challenges as something to get through together.
So what, exactly, does emotional distance look like in a marriage?
It's turning away a hug or a touch when your spouse offers one. It can also be ignoring the signs that your spouse needs comfort and support. Emotional distance also occurs when you lash out and say something hurtful, rather than being vulnerable and expressing your true feelings.
Thankfully, there are ways to remedy emotional distance in a marriage - even if it seems irreparable.
Closing the Emotional Gap in Your Marriage
If you've noticed that you and your spouse aren't connecting anymore, you have started to feel alone in your marriage, or simply want to rekindle the passion, try some of the following tips for closing the emotional gap in your marriage.
Plan for Some Couple Time:
It's easy to get caught up in routines, but marriages have to be nurtured just like any other relationship. Take a day - or even just an afternoon or evening together. Leave the kids with a sitter. Leave the family life, bills, and responsibilities at home. Make an agreement to not talk about anything difficult while together. Just focus on enjoying one another's company.
Have an Honest Discussion:
If your marriage is strained by some recent issues, try holding an honest discussion with your spouse. Vow to be vulnerable. Use "I feel" statements, rather than placing blame. Look at your partner and remember that this is a person you love. Discuss ways to overcome the problem, rather than focusing on the hurt or the anger. Remember that conflicts are meant to be conquered together.
Observe Your Spouse in Their Element:
Whether it's hanging out with your spouse while they kick back with their friends or a trip to their place of employment to see them at work (provided it's permitted), it's good to sometimes see your spouse in their own element. Oftentimes, couples forget the reasons that they fell in love. Seeing them in a different light can help remind you.
Limit Criticism to Three Sentences or Less:
It's easy to be critical of a person - especially when you want to avoid looking at your own role in the breakdown of your marriage. Unfortunately, even constructive criticism can start to feel like a personal attack when it's driven into the ground. Vow to address issues and deliver criticism in three sentences or less; you might be amazed at the results.
Change Up Your Intimacy Routines:
Fatigue, responsibilities, and a whole host of other life issues can really get in the way of intimacy. Inject a dose of mystery and fun into your marriage by changing it up a bit. Get down and dirty in the middle of the day, or right after work. You may have to plan for it, or perhaps an opportunity to be spontaneous will arise. Either way, intimacy can help you and your spouse reconnect on a physical and emotional level.
Emotional distance doesn't have to be the end of your marriage. If you notice it, do something about it - and if you haven't noticed it yet, do something now to prevent it. You and your spouse will be grateful that you put in the extra effort.