What can you do right now to become closer to your partner?
You could buy her some jewelry or you could buy him a new smartphone. Both of those things would remind them of how much you love them, right? Probably not. How many times have you used “stuff” to attempt to make the relationship better? It might seem like it works, but usually the next day or the next week, it’s back to the same “I feel like we are roommates” situation.
Instead of looking to your credit card, look at how much you are showing fondness and admiration. Think about how much you pay attention to aspects of your partner’s life that don’t involve you.
1. Bids for Connection
When your spouse asks you “How was your day?” the standard response is “Fine”. By asking you, your spouse just made a “bid” to connect with you. If you shrug and walk away, you have rejected that bid. That seemingly insignificant rejection causes more distance between the two of you. Instead, put down your phone and say “let’s sit down for a minute and I’ll tell you about it.” It might seem inconvenient at first, but you have no idea how much that few minutes of connection might mean to your spouse.
2. Understand Each Other’s World
Couples who have been together for awhile tend to assume that their partner feels heard and known. You don’t have to be a mind reader to understand your partner, but you do have to put in the work to help your partner feel they can trust you and open up. The key to understanding each other is to ask questions, listen and respect the answers (even if you don’t like it!), and ask more questions about the topic to make sure you understand. Watch out for your own defensiveness during these conversations. If your partner trusts you enough to tell you the truth about what is bothering them, it is up to you to continue to provide a safe space for sharing.