Even though divorces can happen for serious reasons, like infidelity or abuse, many divorces in America happen simply because the love and romance behind the marriage contract slowly fade away. One article lists lack of intimacy, unmet expectations, and a loss of individuality as some of the reasons why couples contemplate divorce. These problems usually come when the closeness and trust you built during the early years is not longer there. It takes some real work to bring closeness back into a marriage, but if you are both willing to put in some extra effort, you can rekindle some of the spark that seems to have disappeared over time. Here are two ways that you can help to keep emotional intimacy alive in your marriage-- even when it has been years since the honeymoon.
1. Get the details.
One of the reasons why people start to "grow apart" in marriage is because they become so involved in the day to day task of living life, working, and raising kids that they fail to really connect each day and know the specific details about their partner's thoughts, feelings and struggles.
People change over time, so it is important to always reconnect each day. You can begin to feel closer to your partner again by getting past generic questions like, "How was your day?" and ask questions and share experiences that contain detail and emotion. Some of the questions you could ask include:
- what was the best part of your day today?
- what made you feel frustrated today?
- did you have to deal with any difficult people at work?
- what did you learn about in your photography class?
- is there anything you wanted to do today that you didn't get around to doing?
These questions show a deeper level of interest in your partner's life. As you ask pointed questions, you will get more intimate details about their thoughts, relationships with others, and the personal struggles they are going through. You can remember these details to inform your questions the next day. For example, after your spouse confides that she really struggles to reach a special needs child in her classroom, you could follow up the next day with a question like "How did things go with Johnny today?"
These questions do a variety of things: they let you into the world of your spouse, they show that you genuinely care about them and their individual trials, and they also show your spouse that their answers are worth remembering. You'll find that as you get the real details about life, that you will begin to renew your friendship and trust in one another.
2. Keep the dreams alive.
Again, mundane life can really start to take a toll on a marriage if you and your partner are both putting your relationship on the back burner for more immediate problems. However, every person has hopes and dreams for the future. These provide motivation and excitement-- likely, you fell in love with your partner partially because of the vision they had for the future and the personal goals they wanted to achieve. These "dreams" often fall behind, leaving both you and your partner less enthused about living in general.
You can help to solve this problem by bringing goals and dreams to the forefront of your discussions. If, for example, your partner has always wanted to travel to India, instead of saying someday, start to make a plan about how that can happen. If you have always wanted to learn French, it's time to talk to your partner about going to class or starting a language program. Building up the dreams of your spouse helps to bolster individual confidence. If you work together to validate and realize each other's dreams, you will:
- respect each other more.
- find more joy in the day-today tasks
- have more experience with joy as you both reach your goals
- grow closer together as you both feel the accomplishment that comes with success
- have more direction as you both work to make dreams a reality.
Marriage is a constant struggle to improve and stay together-- while also enjoying staying together. If the enjoyment part of your marriage is starting to fade, it's important to bring emotional intimacy back into the picture. You can do this by attending marriage counseling and focusing on the little details, while setting your sights on the big picture.