Do you find that your conversations with your spouse primarily involve working through logistics? Our busyness and overcommitted lives require intense planning and coordination, but sometimes we miss out on personal or intimate connections. Couples' conversations often revolve around coordinating the kids' schedules and determining household responsibilities with very little time spent on deep discussions. We can easily be consumed with tasks, chores, and projects without noticing that our connection to each other is weakening. Our jam-packed schedules with work-related or family-related responsibilities are exhausting and contribute to our marriage getting leftover scraps of time and attention. Furthermore, we may choose to decompress in front of a screen which further eliminates human connection. In fact, many of the activities that people choose to reduce stress are solitary and result in very little interaction. When couples are not intentional about spending time together or engaging in personal conversations, detachment from each other can occur. So how did this happen?
Our busy and fast-paced schedules certainly contribute to our disconnect and logistical conversations. Technology has also played a part in that we interact more often through screens than face-to-face. Texting offers short snippets of a conversation, but does not allow for emotional expressions. Emojis don't count! However fun and useful they are to us, they rarely provide an accurate or complete description of our feelings. This is evidenced by the continued rise in loneliness even though we can be connected more and more through technology. Again, the connections are superficial, distant, and trivial. We are self-disclosing less about ourselves and avoiding vulnerable and intimate conversations even with those we love. Many people seek to maintain a safe and secure emotional distance. The result is couples who have more of a business arrangement or roommate relationship which over time is damaging and destroys marriages. Couples often become aware of the disconnect when their children leave home or when they retire and realize that their connection was based on family or work. How can we prevent this from happening?
Couples need to be intentional about their time together and create opportunities for connection. Sometimes having a planned date night and committing to talk about things other than work and children can be helpful. Share in activities that both individuals enjoy and create a fun list together that you agree to incorporate into your date night. Even though logistical conversations are obviously still needed, work on having deeper and more intimate conversations that include expression of emotion. This could include sharing a time in the day or week when you felt sad, disappointed, excited or joyful. When we share our feelings, we deepen our connections. Make the decision to engage in emotionally intimate conversations and create opportunities for physical connections. Work through conflicts and let go of negative emotions to allow room for positive ones. Lastly, make an effort to meet each other's needs and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Deeper connections with our spouse strengthens our relationship and leads to greater fulfillment and joy.