No matter how long it's been, you CAN rekindle those first sparks.
We all want to feel emotionally connected with our partner. Emotional connection takes away loneliness and brings fun and passion into a relationship. Yet many couples who felt very connected with each other at the beginning of the relationship find themselves drifting apart — losing the in-love feelings that brought them together in the first place.
You can reconnect and revive the fun and passion in your relationship, but this doesn't just happen by itself. There are specific things you need to do to heal your disconnected relationship.
Here are 6 things you can do to start repairing the emotional connection in your relationship:
1. Open up.
One of the experiences that led to connecting in the first place was probably that you were open to one another at the beginning of your relationship. Most people are open when they first meet because they're not invested in the relationship yet.
But as you fall in love and your fears are activated — fear of rejection, fear of engulfment, or fear of losing yourself — you might start to close up and protect yourself. Ironically, closing up can create the very things you fear.
In any given moment, your intent with your partner is either to be open to learning about yourself and your partner or to protect against what you fear with some form of controlling behavior. To heal the disconnection in your relationship, you need to consistently choose to be open to learning, especially in conflict.
You cannot resolve conflict if one or both of you are closed, yet conflict is easily resolved when both of you are open to caring about your own and your partner's highest good.
Opening up means you're willing to hear each other with caring and understanding for each other's feelings and points of view, rather than arguing, defending, withdrawing, or giving yourself up.
2. Take responsibility for your own feelings.
When you close up and protect yourself from getting hurt, you cause yourself a lot of pain. Shutting down, getting angry, judging yourself, or giving yourself up hurts you.
Instead of blaming your partner for your pain, be open to learning about how you are rejecting and abandoning yourself. THAT is what's causing your pain.
If your partner hurts you by shutting down, getting angry, blaming, or withdrawing, offer compassion for the loneliness and heartache that we all feel when someone we love disconnects from us. Instead of blaming your partner for hurting you, be very kind and caring with yourself, keeping your own heart open so that when your partner opens up again, you can reconnect.
It's very helpful, in taking loving care of your feelings, to develop a personal connection with a loving and comforting source of spiritual guidance. Being able to open to this source for love and compassion can help you keep your heart open to love.
The more you're able to learn to love yourself by taking compassionate care of your own feelings, the more love you will have to share with your partner.
3. Focus on what you love about your partner rather than on what's wrong.
When the bloom of falling in love starts to wear off, you might find yourself focusing on what you don't like about your partner. We all have an ego-wounded self that often rears its controlling head when we feel insecure. None of us likes each other's wounded self, but it's not the wounded self we fell in love with.
What we fell in love with is the soul essence of each other. This part of us is what's truly beautiful and wonderful about each of us. If you focus on your partner's wounded self, you will likely feel disconnected and resentful towards your partner, but if you focus on your partner's essence, you can regain your original in-love feelings.
4. Make time to be together.
Once people live together, they get busy and often forget to make time for each other. Connection flourishes when you have the time to talk, learn, share, laugh, play, and make love. Try setting aside date times, like you did when you were dating. We all live busy lives, especially after having children but if a loving and connected relationship is important to you, then you need to make time together a high priority.
5. Become aware of your controlling behavior.
Most partners are aware of how the other person tries to control, but they're often completely unaware of how they try to control. Here are some of the ways you might be controlling without realizing it:
- Giving yourself up: To avoid conflict and rejection, do you give yourself up and go along with what your partner wants? When you're giving yourself up, you're trying to control how your partner feels about you.
- Withdrawing: Withdrawal is generally a form of punishment, which says, "I will withdraw my love from you until you behave the way I want you to behave." You might use TV, work, the Internet, porn, video games and many other activities to shut your partner out.
- Getting angry and/or blaming: Anger and blame are ways to intimidate your partner into doing what you want him or her to do.
- Explaining, defending, teaching, nagging, or analyzing: These are all ways of trying to get your partner to give himself or herself up and see or do things your way.
- Turning to substance addictions: This is another way of shutting out your partner. It's also a way of controlling/avoiding your feelings rather than learning how to take responsibility for them.
The problem with these controlling behaviors is that your partner will likely react by doing the same things or going into resistance. Each of you then perpetuates the disconnection between you. By becoming aware of your own controlling behaviors and being open to learning, you can heal your disconnection.
6. Shift your focus from getting love to being loving.
Did you enter your relationship to get love? To get your partner to give you the sense of worth and security you're not giving to yourself? If you did, your partner probably has the same agenda since we're attracted at our common level of woundedness — our common level of self-rejection.
When you shift your focus away from getting love and toward giving love to yourself and sharing your love with your partner, everything changes! If both of you learn how to bring love to yourselves and then share your love, your disconnected relationship will heal.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."