There's no shortage of advice about how important it is for couples to get busy regularly, but it's just as imperative for couples to keep their marriage emotionally hot, even when life is busy. Use these experts' tips to keep your marriage emotionally hot. If you've found yourself in a disconnected state, learn possible reasons for it and potential solutions.
"The best way to keep a relationship hot is to remain an interesting and vital person," says Mark Sharp, a psychologist with a practice specializing in relationship and family issues in Oak Brook, Illinois. I love this advice because it's something my own mom has always said. I recall her long ago commenting that couples who dodn't have any individual interests don't have anything new or interesting to share with one another.
Sharp explains, "It is easy with long term relationships, and in particular when you have a family, to become so focused on other people that you lose your own identity and interests and activities. Keeping a strong individual identity, and putting energy into supporting that identity, will help make anyone a more interesting person. A marriage is much more likely to sizzle when it has two interesting people (individuals) in it."
Don't forget good old date night. "I suggest that all couples build in a regular date night," says relationship expert and licensed therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW, Director of Wasatch Family Therapy. "By build in, I mean have a regularly scheduled babysitter for a specific night every week so you're not scrambling to find someone to watch the kids."
The point isn't so much to go do something new and fun -- although there's nothing wrong with that! -- but rather to have a few hours of adult time to connect and talk. Not only is it difficult to have uninterrupted conversations when you have children, but your topics of discussion are constrained by what's appropriate for your children to hear. By going out on a "date," you're able to talk about whatever you want and stay connected on an emotional level.
If your budget doesn't allow for a regular date night out, plan a regular date night in. Put the kids to bed and sit down to talk, have dinner alone or watch a movie together. Just being present with one another is significant.
Hanks also recommends that couples "check in" with each other on a daily basis. "Develop a daily emotional 'check in' ritual with your spouse or partner," she explains. "Not only check in with their overall emotions, but specifically about your emotional connection. Do you feel close and open? Distant and withdrawn? Or somewhere in between?"
It's great advice and although it may seem awkward at first, an honest daily-- or even weekly -- check in is a wonderful way to know where your partner stands. It's also a way to prevent any smaller issues from festering until they become bigger issues.
Certainly in any marriage, there will be times when you're more emotionally connected to your spouse and times when you're less emotionally connected. However, what you want to avoid is a true emotional disconnect.
Hanks offers several reasons that couples become emotionally disconnected. "Couples drift apart in marriage because they stop attending to and investing in their relationship and they shift their focus to other things like children, work, extended family, friends and distractions that are easier to engage in in the short run," she says.
Additionally, hurt feelings or resentments can lead to disconnection if the person who is hurt builds up walls to protect herself/himself. "Distressed couples are stuck in a pattern of relating to each other in a self-protecting way and stop giving and receiving each other's emotional cues," says Hanks. If you find that you can't break down the walls on your own, seek the help of a licensed marriage counselor.
If you have found yourself in a position of emotional distance, Hanks advises the following:
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