Couples engage me to coach them in the skills to create and maintain the closeness and connection that they desire for their romantic relationship. Little do they know, there are small but important things that they are doing to sabotage the potential for closeness with their partner. In this article, I’ll share five things you can do starting today to foster closer connection with your partner.
One aspect of the coaching I do is to help couples notice, interrupt, and change unhealthy patterns. Here, what I mean by “unhealthy” is simply those patterns that do not create the relationship that you both want. Enter your name and email using the form on this page and the “5 Ways to Create Closeness” guidebook will be sent to your Inbox.
If after reading this article and downloading guide, you need additional support and are ready to explore coaching either as a couple or an individual, it starts with a free initial consultation to explore if there is a good fit.
Stop pushing your partner away.
I can’t count how many couples engage me for coaching with one or both of the partners pointing the finger at the other person: “They’re not ready for intimacy” and “I try to share but they’re walled off.”
Most often, the couple is co-creating the dynamic that leaves both feeling distance from each other. Distance can lead to disconnection. Disconnection can lead to misunderstanding. Misunderstanding can lead to resentment. And on and on. Awareness of this progression is empowering in protecting the preciousness of your bond with your partner. Feed it by fostering closeness …
Be Yourself in a Healthy, Happy Relationship
What if I were to tell you that I’ve seen five simple ways of speaking to your partner that, when done consistently, will create the opportunities for warmth and closeness? For my marriage, I shout “Sign me up!”
But what if you don’t want to change the way you speak to your partner?
First, the five ways I list below don’t change the intention and authenticity of what you want to share. They are guidelines for how to say what you want to say in a way that creates connection instead of the potential for hurt and defensiveness.
Second, would you rather be “yourself” or “yourself in a healthy, happy relationship?” Me too.
So what are the five things?
Things are easier to do when they’re easier to remember in the moment. So I crafted the five points into the acronym “TOUCH.”
- Support the Team: State things using “we” and “us.” You’re a team so reinforce it with the perspective and language you use.
- Stay Optimistic: When describing things that you don’t like or want to change, use words such as “currently”, “yet”, and “at the present time.” Your relationship is dynamic so when you say something like “we have not yet been able to figure out things we both like to do together” in place of “you don’t spend any time with me.”
- Try to Understand: Stay curious about your partner’s experience. Even if you have been married for 100 years, your partner will continue to surprise you. Part of the joy in being in relationship is I can never be in my partner’s head and our differences make us stronger. How do you do that? Remind yourself that you don’t know what it’s like to be your partner. So ask them. “When I asked if you’d brainstorm activities we can do together, what feelings came up for you?” Avoid assuming you know how your partner is feeling with statements such as “I am not sure why I asked. I knew how you’d answer.” And avoid telling your partner how they feel. “I can tell you’re not interested.” There are connecting ways you can check out an assumption with your partner: “I am telling myself a story that you may not be interested in hanging out with me. I am afraid. Since we’ve been co-parenting so long we may not be interested in the same things anymore. What is it like for you?”
- Be Constructive: Ask for what you want in the positive rather than demanding what you don’t want. First, ask for what you want. You’d probably be surprised at how many partners in relationship want things but never ask their partners for them. And it would shock you how many of their partners would love to do them if only they knew! But people respond much better to “Now that the kids are older, I want us to spend more time having fun together. Would you be open to brainstorming with me?” Instead of “I am so fed up. You never spend any time with me anymore. Once the kids got older, you thought that it’s more time to spend with your friends.”
- Avoid Hyperbole: “Never” and “always” can sound like weapons. They put your partner in a box as unwilling or incapable of change. Welcome your partner out of the imaginary box that you created for them. See your partner as the dynamic, complex person that you love by using “sometimes” or “often” instead!
Now that you’re familiar with 5 simple things you can do to create closeness, you’re ready to request the accompanying “5 Ways to Create Closeness” guidebook by filling out the form on this page. The guide will be sent to your inbox.
Change comes not from understanding but from actually doing. I’m providing the guidebook accompanying this article for free as a support tool with details and examples to lean on for developing these skills.
If you need additional support are ready to explore coaching either as a couple or an individual, that’s what I love to do. Exploring coaching with me starts with a free initial consultation to see if there may be a good fit.