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How to Fix Emotional Distance in Marriage

by Sheri Oz

You love your spouse and you believe your spouse loves you. But you have grown so distant from each other. It is almost as if you are on one side of a huge river and your partner is on the other side. You just don’t know how to get back together on the same side again to feel the deep emotional connection you used to share. Here are some tips that might help.

Different Ways of Showing Love

In her 2010 article published in the “Annual Review of Psychology,” social psychologist Ellen Bersheid wrote that people have different ways of showing love, and that not all differences can be attributed to being male or female. How do you show your love? That is probably what you wish your partner would do with or for you and it may not coincide with your spouse’s way of feeling loved. Now think about how your partner tries to make you feel loved and you know what you can do or say to demonstrate your love for your spouse. It may not come naturally to you, but that is one way to begin bridging the emotional distance.

Resolve Unresolved Angers

There is almost nothing more powerful than lingering resentment and anger for keeping partners distant from one another, according to psychologist Greg Smalley, author of “Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage.” If one of you is still upset about an argument or an incident, that is one too many! Even if it seems scary, or merely tiresome and irritating, open up unresolved disagreements with the aim of finding a way to tie up all loose ends to the satisfaction of both of you. This will help increase your emotional connection. If you cannot do this alone, consider sitting with a trusted friend or family member, a pastor or a professional counselor.

Spend Quality Time Together

We know how important quality time is in our relationships with our kids. Well, quality time for spouses is just as important. Set aside time for just the two of you. Then do something you each enjoy. If you don’t like the same movies, for example, then one evening go to his favorite genre and on another occasion go see one of her favorites. This kind of compromise can work regardless of the activity. The important thing is to continue to “date” after the marriage to maintain your loving feelings. It doesn’t have to be weekly, once a month is fine, just as long as it is something you're willing to commit to continuing to do.

Surprise Your Spouse

One of the best ways to initiate change and invite your partner into renewed emotional closeness is to surprise your partner. It doesn't have to be a big surprise as that might be too much of a shock and prove too difficult to keep doing consistently. Instead, aim for a small but significant change that encourages closeness. For example, you might begin saying “I love you” to your partner when you are not in the habit of doing so, or suggesting an activity your spouse enjoys when your partner has got used to your adamant refusal to join in. If your spouse resists or expresses suspicion regarding your motives, show him or her this article and say it was written in response to YOUR question.

About the Author

With an Master of Science in marital and family therapy, Sheri Oz ran a private clinical practice for almost 30 years. Based on her clinical work, she has published a book and many professional articles and book chapters. She has also traveled extensively around the world and has volunteered in her field in China and South Sudan.

Photo Credits

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