Relationships can be complicated; most of us know this and have experienced it. The relationship curve does not stay the same all through your marriage or whatever form of long-term relationship you have chosen. When you’re slowly drifting apart or feeling disconnected but can’t do anything to salvage the situation, figuring out ways to reconnect with your spouse can be the lifeboat you need.
Like the stock exchange, there are highs and lows, good times and bad times, and wins and losses in every relationship. A major low point is a loss of connection in a relationship for various reasons. If you feel disconnected from your partner over the course of your marriage, you might be wondering how to reconnect with your partner and if it’s even possible.
People in strong and healthy relationships will tell you that connections between married couples suffer when there are financial issues, when the loss of a dear one like a child or a parent hits you, or when there’s infidelity. However, it doesn’t always take a major setback to drive a wedge between a couple.
Boredom, monotony, a lack of effort, and complacency can also cause partners to drift apart. Marriage needs constant work and nurturing to last. So even when the connection wanes in phases, how willing you are to reconnect with your spouse will decide the fate of your relationship.
When You Feel Disconnected With Your Spouse: 6 Causes
A loss of connection in a relationship can happen at any time. It can happen in the first year of marriage itself or it can happen after you’ve been happily married for 20 years. To regain emotional connection can become a lifetime of work, regardless of how long you’ve been together.
In the first year, spouses could have adjustment issues. Sometimes one spouse becomes controlling while the other wants space. Feeling disconnected in a relationship can make both spouses distraught, and the reasons behind it can be multiple. “I felt emotionally disconnected from my husband, and I didn’t even know why. It took a few meaningful conversations, a few heated arguments, and lots of understanding to realize that he didn’t feel loved. He felt as though he had to change himself to cater to me.
“I didn’t like it when he spoke too loudly, though he tried to change that, it also ate away at him because he felt as though he couldn’t be his authentic self with me. Thankfully, we were able to talk through our differences. If you want to establish a bond with your spouse emotionally, make sure you communicate your feelings effectively,” Julia told us, talking about her decade-long marriage to Ruben.
When things go awry, reconnecting with your spouse emotionally by simply communicating with them may sound too simplistic or even too good to be true. But it can be a vital first step in the right direction. To be able to communicate effectively, you need to figure out why there may be a disconnect in the first place. Here are a few plausible reasons:
1. Adjustment issues
When two people start living together, compromises have to be made. But when the adjustments happen with the suspension of self, trouble brews. A chilled air-conditioner vs a warmer bedroom could look like a trivial issue but it can create disconnection in a long-term relationship. That’s why some couples even opt for separate bedrooms as a way to make things work.
Archie and Liz had been married for a year when certain issues started creeping in. Archie was a morning person, Liz wasn’t. Archie could barely tolerate a spoonful of chili flakes, Liz was a spice fiend. None of these seemed like life-altering differences but they became obstacles to building connection in a marriage.
2. Control vs too much space
A controlling husband or a wife who is completely spaced out are both bad for a relationship. But when married couples fail to find a middle path, there’s often a disconnect. With disconnect, figuring out how to reconnect with your husband or wife also falls by the wayside.
When one spouse is a control freak and the other keeps harping on individuality and space and wants more “me time”, issues begin to fester in the marriage. This can lead to loss of connection in the relationship as resentment builds, or one partner starts feeling stifled.
3. Money issues
Starting from financial infidelity to problems around sharing expenses, monetary issues can be a monster that can ruin relationships. Disconnection happens when the financial stress becomes unbearable or one partner is a spendthrift and the other one is a miser. Take Jen and Jake, for instance. Jake was cheerfully casual about spending and didn’t worry about saving for the future.
Jen, having grown up in a financially tight household, weighed and noted down everything she spent. Soon, this led to major conflict and loss of connection in the relationship, with Jen calling Jake immature and Jake wishing Jen was a little less uptight. Remember, there are several probing questions you can add to your “How to reconnect with your husband/wife?” list, but “Why did you spend $49.99 on a pair of shoes?” is best skipped.
4. Cheating can wreck a marriage
Spouses feel distraught when their partners venture into an affair and are mentally tormented because of the cheating. That’s when they find it hard to reconnect after cheating. That’s what happened to Martha and James. After half a decade of marriage, Martha saw James drifting apart, and it seemed like his phone was more important to him than her.
“I felt emotionally disconnected from my husband and I figured out why when I saw a few dirty texts on his phone that he was trying to hide from me. He had been having an online affair, and it felt impossible to get back to the good times after that,” says Martha. People change after infidelity in a marriage, making it difficult for them to go back to the way they were before the cheating scandal.
5. Interference of in-laws
If an affair can take a toll on a marriage, elderly in-laws moving in with a married couple could also lead to discord. If you are constantly fighting about the in-laws and if they are coming between you, it can ravage your marriage. Dealing with their temper tantrums can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse. Even if you’re wondering what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect, having in-laws in the same living space can make it difficult to have these meaningful conversations.
6. Unhealthy addictions and coping mechanisms
Drug addiction, alcoholism, or gambling can create discord in a marriage. If your spouse is heavily addicted to any or all of these, it could cause major changes to their personality, making it difficult for you to figure out how to reconnect with your partner.
Nowadays, social media addiction is also a major reason behind married couples feeling disconnected from one another. To get over alcohol addiction or substance abuse problems, rehabilitation and therapy are the best recourse. As far as social media addiction goes, a detox could be a good enough way to reconnect with your husband or wife.
10 Signs Of Disconnection In Your Marriage
Now that we have discussed the causes, the next step is to spot the signs that declare all too clearly that a disconnect exists in a marriage. Understanding the signs can help you figure out how to reconnect with your husband/wife and hopefully find your way back to a happier space.
You’ll only be able to traverse to that happier space if you can ascertain if something is going south or not. On your journey to reconnect with your spouse emotionally, the signs will help you figure out exactly what you need to fix as well. Let’s take a look at them:
Related Reading: How To Respond To The Silent Treatment – Effective Ways To Handle It
1. There is more silence than talk
Charlie and Hank had always been a deeply communicative couple. Their dinner table conversations covered everything under the sun – from politics to office gossip. But a few years into the marriage, the communication problems between them were palpable and the zest for building connection in their marriage was gone.
It’s common for long-term relationships to change over time. But, if your marriage was with cheerful conversations and laughter, it can be heartbreaking to see that you no longer have a word to say to each other, you eat your meals in silence and quickly get busy with the TV or the phone afterward. When you notice something like that, it’s time to reconnect with a distant spouse.
2. You need to reconnect with your spouse emotionally if there is a communication gap
We know, it sounds like the oldest cliche around, but communication really is key to building a healthy relationship. You might already be aware that you don’t communicate about each other’s feelings anymore. You have angry outbursts, you both fester in your own little stew of feelings or go silent.
You never discuss why you feel disconnected in the relationship or talk about how to reconnect with your partner. Rather than talking or going on a date night, you and your partner only misunderstand each other and that’s causing the communication gap between you to widen.
3. Your partner has emotionally checked out
You may be feeling no emotional connection because your husband has checked out of the marriage emotionally. Or perhaps your wife has given up on the marriage in her mind. It may seem like the rift between you is growing wider by the day. If you feel the relationship is worth saving, you’ll have to make a conscious effort to emotionally reconnect with your husband or wife and make him/her believe in your future together.
4. There is sex but no intimacy
You have sex but you do not make love anymore. You just give in to your biological needs but there is no intimacy when you are in each other’s arms. You might even feel the disconnection in the relationship when you make out. A lack of intimacy during the time emotions should be running high signals a major need to reconnect with your partner sexually. Perhaps, you’re headed toward a sexless marriage.
5. You do not resolve conflicts
Conflict resolution is the most important aspect of a healthy relationship. You know you are in an unhealthy marriage when neither you nor your partner no longer makes an effort to work through your problems. You keep your issues and feelings bottled up instead. Knowing how to reconnect with your spouse after a fight is vital for the health of your relationship. You need to reach an effective solution to your fights, otherwise, the animosity that lingers in the air is going to eat you up from inside.
6. You hardly spend time together
Earlier, you would travel together, go on date nights, hold hands, write each other love notes, or even plan double dates with friends but now you hardly find any solace in each other’s company. You loathe spending time with each other. If you realize you’re both getting a little too busy with your own lives or you’ve stopped making time for one another, you may need a few ideas on things to do with your spouse to reconnect. More on that later.
7. Silent treatment is meted out to each other
There could be some benefits of silence in a relationship but prolonged silent treatment amounts to emotional abuse if it’s out of spite. It results in you drifting further apart rather than reconnecting with a spouse. If a relationship feels exhausting, resolving conflict maturely just may not seem to be worth it anymore. Instead, you may opt to stonewall each other.
8. You don’t say “I love you”
Saying a spontaneous “I love you” is all it takes to make you feel loved and happy. But if you just don’t feel like uttering those words, something could be really wrong with your relationship. Though it may seem like a formality after a point of time, assuring your partner that you really love and care for them might be all you need to strengthen your bond. But if you can’t remember the last time you said the three magical words to each other and meant it, it’s time to think about what’s wrong.
9. You don’t keep track of each other’s lives
When Carly got a big promotion at work, she didn’t tell her husband Jerry. It was her colleague who told Jerry, and predictably, he was surprised and hurt that Carly hadn’t told him herself. On the other hand, when Jerry was thinking about investing in a mobile home, it was a while before he discussed it with Carly. You know you cannot reconnect with a distant spouse when s/he doesn’t share her/his life plans, triumphs, and tribulations with you.
10. There is no effort by your partner to make you happy
It’s not the grand gestures but the little acts of thoughtfulness that make two people happy in a relationship. If there is no effort to bring home flowers or gifts, write a love letter, try new things or find a new recipe and toss up an interesting dish to make your spouse happy, know that there’s a problem. If your partner isn’t making any effort to stay connected to you, it’s a sign of disconnection in marriage.
If all the signs have got you drawing parallels with your relationship, figuring out things to do with your spouse to reconnect might be the first step you need to take. Let’s take an in-depth look at what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect and everything else that you need to do, so you can move one step closer to the harmonious marriage you yearn for.
8 Steps To Reconnect With Your Spouse
So, how do you reconnect with a distant spouse? Disconnection in a marriage can send it on a downward spiral. But psychologist John Gottman, who has saved hundreds of marriages from divorce and has been researching over 3,000 couples for the last 40 years, feels that timely reconnection is the key to putting a marriage back on track.
Gottman says it’s possible to bring back marriages from the brink of separation or divorce if couples seek intervention in the early phases of disconnection. Just knowing what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect with them can help ensure that the communication becomes more effective and engaging.
Whether you’re looking to be more sexually intimate with your husband/wife or trying to rebuild your marriage during separation, you can effect change only by taking concrete steps. However, keep in mind that a short-term solution to the problem will not work if you are looking to save your relationship. So, don’t waste time on them. If the question of how to reconnect with a spouse has been weighing heavy on your mind, here are 8 steps you could follow.
Related Reading: 7 Warning Signs You Are Growing Apart In Your Marriage
1. Reconnect with your spouse spontaneously
The first step to reconnecting with a spouse is to try to bring back spontaneity in your relationship or marriage. A good way to do that is to let go of all the anger and hurt. Whether it’s the fact that your spouse is lazy with the chores or financial concerns are making you angry, find a solution to them and try to let go.
Instead, focus on the positives of the relationship and the shared memories and try to bring back that simple hug or the holding hands or the peck on the cheek. And if you’re trying to figure out how to reconnect with your spouse sexually, a spontaneous night of lovemaking might just be all you need. Go ahead and set the mood with a few candles and that expensive wine, and you’ll have yourselves a night to remember.
2. Reconnect with your spouse emotionally
This is one way to make your spouse fall in love with you again. Emotional interdependence is a sign of a healthy relationship. When you start to feel disconnected from your partner emotionally, your relationship inevitably takes a blow. The emotional disconnect happens when fights are left unresolved. A good way to resolve issues is to accept that conflict is inevitable but it’s possible to resolve it healthily.
If you make sure to not use hurtful words, play the blame game, or spew venom, and instead try to have a dialogue about the problem, you can be in a better space in your marriage. To do that, you must talk to your partner honestly and amicably. Figure out how to reconnect with your husband or wife after a fight, and you’ll be one step closer toward emotional intimacy.
Ask questions and listen carefully to what your partner is saying if you want to re-establish an emotional bond with them. Sometimes, if you want to regain an emotional connection, all you need to do is make your partner feel validated and heard by listening to them attentively.
3. Reconnect with your spouse spiritually
In a relationship, there is always a spiritual connection. Some believe in it, some don’t. Some feel it more, some don’t. When you are inordinately connected spiritually, it’s a sign you are soulmates and share a certain level of comfort and faith in each other.
A spiritual connection is when spouses can make out that a partner is disturbed mentally or know what they need to do to fix the situation. It’s not magic, it’s just a case of how well you understand each other. But sometimes, there is a breakdown of this spiritual connection when partners feel like they are strangers living in the same house.
You can resurrect that connection with care, compassion, and effort. So, if you’ve been thinking about what to talk about with your spouse to reconnect, try to talk about how you don’t feel innately connected to them. Perhaps some wonderful and meaningful conversations will ensue, and you’ll know exactly why you both feel so distant.
4. Reconnect with your spouse sexually
When there’s a disconnect between married couples, one of the first things that go out of the window is the sex life. Either it becomes very dissatisfying or lack of intimacy leads to no sex at all. Reconnecting sexually needs effort on your part, but you have to start with emotional reconnection before you can get intimate physically and find that old warmth.
You could start working on the friendship, go on a date night to bond with your spouse, travel together, and tick off your favorite places from your bucket list. To build a strong connection in your marriage, you have to rely on building a strong foundation of friendship first.
If you’re looking to be more sexually intimate with your husband or wife, go ahead and surprise them by spontaneously making the first move and focusing a bit more on foreplay. From trying new positions to setting the mood beforehand, there are a plethora of things to do with your spouse to reconnect sexually.
5. Reconnect with your spouse intellectually
Maybe you are both avid readers and there was a time when you could discuss a book for hours but that doesn’t happen anymore. Or the passionate debates fueled by your clashing political ideologies seem futile now. Or you do not watch back-to-back movies lying on the couch anymore. These are some ways a lack of intellectual intimacy manifests in a relationship.
To overcome it and reconnect with your significant other, gift them a book, play games, or buy tickets to the movies. Tell them you heard of a great Netflix series that you want to watch together. Opting for a class, playing a card game, or joining a webinar together can also be great ways to build intellectual intimacy in a relationship. For a healthy relationship, spouses need to be in sync intellectually.
6. Reconnect with your spouse happily
How to reconnect with your partner? To be able to find an answer to that, you have to first understand the root cause of unhappiness in your relationship. If you can work on that and eliminate it, then nothing can stop you from reconnecting with your partner and finding your happiness. To find things to do with your spouse to reconnect, try to think of things that made you both happy.
Perhaps you loved doing yoga together, trying new things or activities together, playing a card game, or ticking off places from your bucket list together. Maybe you felt connected while cooking together. Happiness can be a stroll in the garden or indulging in the ritual of having coffee together in the morning. Go back to your first date and all the fun rituals that made you happy and you will find your marriage has already become invigorated with fresh energy.
Related Reading: 12 Realistic Expectations In A Relationship
7. Reconnect with your spouse logically
What to talk about with your spouse to reconnect? Talk logic. Apply solid reasoning to your relationship. Sometimes our mind is clouded by our emotions and sentiments, due to which we end up jumping to conclusions and drawing inferences that have no logic or reason. This way, we cause immense harm to our relationship.
Improving communication in your relationship with logic can help strengthen your connection. If you know the how and why of your issues, then most misunderstandings plaguing your relationship can be cleared.
Perhaps you both jump to conclusions when you argue or you just let your emotions get the better of you, hence putting logic in the backseat. In a situation where you’re trying to re-establish a bond with your spouse, you must logically and objectively look at what went wrong in your relationship and why it did.
8. Find things to do with your spouse to reconnect
You need to find things to do with your spouse to reconnect, since only by spending constructive time together will you feel part of a greater whole again. When the humdrum of life takes hold of you and it feels like eons have passed since you had fun with your partner, you must try and forge a connection with your spouse again.
When you’re all out of ideas, perhaps a few of these things to do with your spouse to reconnect can come to your aid. Here are a few ways to fall back in love with your partner:
- Find a new hobby together, like hiking or chess
- Plan a date night and explore your favorite part of the city
- Set your phone aside for some time and just have meaningful conversations with each other
- Join a running club, a dance class, or a yoga class
- Cook together or for each other, or challenge each other to a cook-off
- Visit new places in your city like tourists
- Have a spa night at home
- Leave love notes for each other on the bathroom mirror
- Attend family events together or bond with a family member you and your spouse are close to
- Try free printable worksheets online to figure out where you went wrong and what needs to improve
The list goes on and only stops where your imagination ends. The point is, with the help of these things married couples can do to reconnect, you’ll make new memories with your partner and strengthen your bond. Marriage is a long and tough journey and all its phases cannot be the same. It is normal to lose connection at times, but if you want to make your marriage work, you can always find your way back to each other.
- There could be several reasons you feel disconnected from your spouse – adjustment issues, financial or infidelity issues, unhealthy addictions, or interference from in-laws
- A few signs of disconnection include a communication gap, lack of emotional and physical intimacy, lack of effort, silent treatment, not spending enough time with each other, or not being involved in each other’s lives
- You must endeavor to connect with your spouse again – emotionally, sexually, spiritually, logically, etc. – to build a stronger marriage
- Spend time with each other, engage in fun activities, travel, resolve past issues, have a spontaneous lovemaking session, or build a spiritual connection with your spouse to strengthen your bond
At the end of the day, what decides how well you’ll get along is how much effort you’re willing to put into it. If your marriage is currently going through a difficult period and you’re looking for couples counseling, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you navigate these tough times, and guide you back to the healthy relationship you once had.
It’s difficult for a marriage to survive without an emotional connection. It is because of the emotional connection you can survive the ups and downs in a marriage. When that connection is gone, you are like two zombies sharing the same bed, that’s all.
First, you need to pinpoint the root cause of the disconnection in the marriage. Then you need to check if all the signs of disconnection are there in your relationship. When you realize why you are drifting apart, you can make efforts to reconnect and get back to the bond you shared before.
You have to take some important steps like spending time together, going on dates, finding your way back to the old rituals that brought the two of you closer together, engaging in non-sexual touch, trying new things in the bedroom, to reconnect both emotionally and sexually.
Both partners need to accept that they are growing apart in the marriage and they need to take concrete steps to reconnect with each other. Making the effort to reconnect is all you need to do to restore the marriage. If you need help, you could try couples counseling.