Whatever stage of life you and your spouse find yourself in, you probably have something competing for your attention. It could be kids’ activities, work obligations, family commitments, or regular commitments for your hobbies.
Unfortunately, even the good and necessary things can cause or widen ruptures in your relationship. When was the last time you and your partner had intentional time together? Have you been feeling disconnected? When was your last conversation that was centered around the two of you individually and/or as a unit?
As an Atlanta couples therapist, I understand that the idea of making time to connect with your spouse can feel overwhelming. Here are some ideas to help you grow closer.
Using technology to grow closer can be fun! There are several free apps available loaded with date ideas and questions to get to know each other better. We recommend the Gottman Card Decks app. Some other ideas include:
- Have a retro game night where you play video games from your childhood.
- Watch old episodes of Jeopardy and play along, with prizes for the winner.
- Try a YouTube tutorial or learn a new language together with DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone.
- Browse travel websites for research or inspiration into your next adventure together.
Center your technology use around growing closer, and turn on your “do not disturb” feature.
Commit to Kid-Free
It’s important to set aside regular time when you won’t be interrupted. Some people have the grandparents or other family members babysit. Some people participate in a small group of trusted people who take turns babysitting the kids in the group so the parents have time together. If you have older kids, you can simply tell them you are going to spend time together and to please only come get you in an emergency.
Incorporate More Touch
Some people may read this as increase your sexual intimacy. That could certainly be part of it. However, the day to day touch that increases security and sense of connection is quite important too. And without it, sex may feel difficult or disconnected for a partner.
So, ask each other what you need more of. This could be playful touch, sexual touch, or even comforting touch.
While asking your partner what they need from you is important, it’s only the first step. Follow-through is the most crucial part of checking in with your spouse. If you constantly ask them what they need but leave things at the status quo, you’re communicating (whether you mean to or not) that you don’t value their needs.
However, if you prioritize doing what you say you’re going to do, that increases trust in the relationship. Increased trust leads to increased feelings of safety, which lead to greater intimacy and feelings of connection.
Affirm Each Other
Finally, take time to intentionally and positively affirm each other. The Gottman Card Deck App has a whole section on ways to show appreciation. When you verbalize appreciation (even for things that you feel they “should” already be doing), they feel seen and helps you assume the best rather than the worst. Affirming your spouse increases your ability to perceive them positively, which helps you be more open to connection over time.
Life is so fast-paced and making time is difficult. An Atlanta couples therapist can help you define and create a plan that is realistic for you and your family, in this time in your life. If you feel like you and your spouse have drifted apart, please don’t hesitate to call. We are here for you.