How to Have More Emotional Intimacy with a Difficult Spouse
Your spouse used to enjoy emotional intimacy with you, but now seems to more interested in work, social media, or TV. How can you become close again?
Before getting married, most couples enjoy spending a lot of time together doing things just because they like to be with each other. After getting married, the same couples can become emotionally detached. With some couples, this happens fairly quickly. Once it’s gone, you can you get emotional intimacy back, but not by being needy.and complaining about it. You can get it back by using a combination of connecting skills and boundaries. This article will help you whether you are just starting out in your marriage or have been married for many years.
In most marriages, husbands and wives get used to the same amount of physical and emotional intimacy
This is usually a good thing because the couple are similar. It is another reason that we want to make sure that our partners are as similar as possible to us before getting married. Any remaining differences will result in compromises. Small compromises are normal. This is part of the adjustment we all must do. Big compromises, however, lead to resentment by whoever is doing the compromising. That can be both the husband and wife, but often it is one spouse more than the other.
The roller coaster emotional intimacy-emotional distance cycle
If your spouse is already satisfied with the level of emotional intimacy in your relationship, you will get resistance whenever you try to get closer. However, whenever you pull away, he or she will try to get closer to you. This is the principle of homeostasis–people try to keep things the same. The answer might seem to be to pull away in order to get your spouse to come closer, but once you do get closer, your spouse will again pull away and you will be at the same place as before. Some people create a roller coaster pattern in their relationships so that they can feel closeness at least some of the time.
Resentment from over-compromise, leads to conflict, then loss of feelings
In regard to emotional intimacy, the one who desires it more will usually make their dissatisfaction known. Most of the time, this is not taken very seriously by the other spouse, who believes the level of closeness to be fine. The resentful partner may escalate and threaten separation or divorce, then back down when promises are made. This often results in temporary change by the other spouse. Threats never result in permanent change. Once things have calmed down, the same level of emotional intimacy is established as before. Eventually, the resentful partner gives up and his or her feelings of love for the other spouse disappear.
Loss of feelings leads to separation, divorce, and/or affairs
Nature abhors a vacuum. Any vacancy left by your spouse will eventually be filled by someone or something else. The same can be said of any vacancy you leave in your spouse. You simply cannot resolve to live the rest of your life with your spouse, setting aside your need for more emotional closeness. Although people try that to avoid divorce, it inevitably affects they way the behave toward their spouse. If you are in this situation, perhaps you are already less loving or more neglecting toward your spouse. It is predictable that one of you will eventually be unfaithful and/or leave your marriage.
Withdrawing from your spouse will eventually increase your spouse’s need for emotional intimacy, but that may not come from you
Pulling away from your spouse will eventually create dissatisfaction in your spouse, but he or she is not likely to deal with that by seeking emotional intimacy with you. That has never been how he or she has solved problems before. Your spouse is more likely to become a chronic workaholic, alcoholic, computer game-a-holic, seek intimacy with someone else, or want a divorce.
Two methods of retaining emotional intimacy without the roller coaster
I have found two methods to be particularly successful in creating a closer relationship. The first is to separate early on (not just threaten to separate), while your spouse still is in love with you. This is best done early in the marriage, so that your spouse understands it is entirely unacceptable for you to have a marriage that is focused on practicality and devoid of romance. It creates a return to the pre-marriage dating relationship you had with him or her. This has kind of a way of resetting his or her idea about how marriage should be. If you have let the distance go on for years, the early intervention method may still work, but only if your spouse is still in love with you (or is very needy). Otherwise, it has a higher risk of backfiring on you and ending your relationship rather than creating a closer one.
Another method is a combination of spending less time with your spouse while still using good connection skills. As you spend more time in your own hobbies, going out with friends, working in a new job, etc., you will naturally become less available for your spouse. Although your spouse won’t feel rejected, because you are still using good connection skills, he or she will want more interaction with you. Probably he or she will start to complain. In that case, you will let him or her know that you would be happy to decrease your time doing other things, but only if he or she is giving you something equally enjoyable to do. You are not going to just stay home and give up those other things. This often has the result of re-igniting a spark in your spouse as when you were engaged. No roller coaster is created because if your spouse starts to back off again, you are once again more engaged with other interests.
The skills you need to make re-create emotional intimacy in your marriage
As you will never argue your way to a better relationship, you need to stop any kind of needy behaviors (behaviors that are destructive to your relationship). You have to know how to help your spouse to enjoy talking with you and doing things with you (connection skills), and you need to know how to use good boundaries to prevent your spouse from creating conflict with you. These are the skills you would learn if you were getting my Re-Connections Coaching Package. In addition, we would tailor it specifically for your spouse to maximize connection and decrease the amount of time it takes to be close again.