You talk about the kids, what’s for dinner and plans with friends or family. The day to day running of your lives together, particularly if you have kids, is often the central focus of your conversations. These things are not wrong to talk about, they are necessary. But, the most important piece that you should not gloss over is how you feel about what in going on in your life day to day.
These deeper conversations are necessary to make the "glue" that holds you two together.
This is what creates the intimacy people desire in their marriage. There is no need to overdo it. That can get weird. But, it is critical that you talk about your highs and lows, joy and pain that has been sprinkled throughout your week. These topics may be from outside interactions with others or something specifically between you and your spouse.
Both women and men can struggle with sharing feelings, but men seem to have a much harder time. Wives frequently complain about the “lack of intimacy” or “connection” with their husbands. And for women, the intimacy and connection are what sparks her sexual desire. Therefore, it is worth the effort, guys!
What can you do to create more intimacy with your spouse?
Let's start with the easier stuff…
Think about your last few days and ask yourself these questions. Then, sit down and disclose the responses to your partner:
Who or what has impacted you?
Who or what made you feel good?
Who or what disappointed you?
What did you learn that is new and what did you like about it?
Did you meet anyone new…what did you think about him or her?
Did anything happen that scared you…disgusted you…made you think in a different way…?
Don’t just focus on the facts, but also focus on how you feel about the answers to these questions.
What comes up as you are talking about it with your spouse? Can you identify a particular feeling such as surprise, joy, sadness, anger? How about the tougher ones like rejection, shame or embarrassment?
If you are unsure, it’s okay to say that you are not sure how you feel. It’s okay to see if your partner, who may have more of a "language" for feelings, help you out. You can feel confused or have mixed emotions too. Whatever it is, do your best to describe it.
Now, let’s make this a little more challenging…
Some people really struggle to bring up the topics that impact their relationship. This is because it taps into our worst fears about being rejected, abandoned or some other dreadful action by our partner. But, like the everyday life topics, it’s not enough to just talk about your thoughts and opinions on the tougher issues (parenting, sex, in-laws, finances and so on). You must also discuss (you guessed it!) how you feel about these topics.
When one partner is reactive or avoidant about broaching one of these subjects it is often indicative of something deeper.
Couples must cut through defensiveness, escalated anger or shutting down to discuss their underlying “core” emotions.
The deeper, core emotions are what keeps a deep and meaningful connection and romantic bond thriving. It also prevents on-going negative patterns of communication. For instance, if you feel "I can never please her" or "I'm not important to him," this may be what sets one of you off into reactivity over your differing points of view things like how to spend your money, frequency of sex or the amount of time spent with the in-laws.
It is much more productive express real feelings instead of giving the silent treatment, carrying a grudge, getting passive-aggressive or yelling. Furthermore, it is much easier for your partner to respond to these core tender emotions. It is a win-win for you both.
How is this helpful?
This kind of heart to heart communication will...
- keep fights from escalating
- prevent "resentment" that couples therapists often hear about in their offices
- It helps your partner feel empathy and "walk in your shoes"
- set off bonding hormones
- create a deep and meaningful connection with your partner
- get out of having only superficial discussions
Long term successful relationships are built on taking these risks with our partners!
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