How To Reconnect With Your Partner: 3 Tips to Help Your Relationship
By any chance, are you feeling like a roommate instead of a partner in your relationship? Have you noticed that you and your partner don’t talk to each other when you are both at home except when it comes to discussing bills and logistics? More than a few people feel hurt when their partner does not even acknowledge them. They might complain that their partner doesn’t care about them and doesn’t want to spend any time together. If this sounds familiar, know that you can reconnect with your partner in simple, positive, authentic ways that can begin to repair and reignite your relationship.
Sometimes couples wonder what changed since the honeymoon phase of their relationship or might think they are not in love anymore. As a therapist, I find it helpful to explain that during the early phase of love, often referred to as the honeymoon phase, you and your partner spend lots of time together and share new experiences. The experience of falling in love changes your brain chemistry temporarily, helping you both focus on each other and give the relationship the attention it needs. The dopamine rush can feel like the most wonderful high, while increased oxytocin creates a sense of comfort and pleasure in connection with the beloved. In addition, various stress hormones create a focus on and preoccupation with the love object that is only relieved by their presence.
As a couple, you become more familiar with each other, and, over time, hormonal levels characteristic of the early phases of falling in love return to normal. You will therefore need to explore ways to recreate a sense of otherness and newness in the other, re-activate earlier states of romantic love, learn how to stay connected, and maintain a sense of safety and security that the relationship can provide.
So, how can you recharge your relationship and feel reconnected? This is an opportunity to explore how you’re doing as two adult individuals sharing power and authority to create an intimate and interdependent relationship. As you look at your patterns as a couple, ask yourself how fair, equitable, sensitive, respectful, and cooperative you are being with your partner and they are being with you. Understand that you both can repair, grow, and recreate an exciting love, which replicates the addictive love that was created in the beginning of your relationship.
You may need the help of your couples therapist to address foundational and overarching issues of how you care and nurture your relationship, but the methods below are simple, fast, and can help you bond any time during the day or night.
- Eye Gazing. When you began dating, you gazed at each other a lot and fell in love through the eyes. You can attune more closely to how your partner is feeling when you are looking directly at them. Face each other in close proximity and gaze into each other’s eyes. At first, you might notice an increase in your pulse or heart rate, but it should slow down after a few minutes. PACT founder Dr. Stan Tatkin teaches that being in close proximity to your partner and eye gazing creates a sense of relaxation, safety, and connection. However, sitting side by side on the couch or in the car can be a more threatening position in terms of connectivity because you cannot see each other’s faces and eyes as easily. You’re also likely distracted by TV or traffic. You may even notice that you frequently fight sitting in that position.
- Hugging. Do you embrace each other when you enter or leave the home? You can benefit from bodily contact if you haven’t hugged in a while. If you do embrace, how do you give each other a hug normally? Do your chests and stomachs touch? If not, move closer into the hug together. Relax your head into the nook of your partner’s neck and close your eyes. Afterward, notice if your partner’s body is relaxed. If not, you can gently touch where you are noticing tension in your partner. If your partner is feeling relaxed, then switch and let them put their head into the nook of your neck with eyes closed. Follow with the same instructions and compare notes. When these areas are in full-body contact, oxytocin is released, which creates secure bonding and connection. You can encourage each other through a hug to reconnect and relax with each other.
- Laughing. One study after another has found that humor has a positive impact on marriage and creates more stability. Even the Mayo Clinic encourages laughter, which has short-term benefits, such as decreased tension, and long-term benefits, such as improved mood and immune system. Humor can bring levity to the relationship and help you shift from focusing on your busy day. Of course, never laugh at each other or make a hurtful joke at your partner’s expense, but explore how humor can be used in the relationship. Humor can help you feel closer to each other. Some couples enjoy watching comedies or comedians together to lighten the stressors of the day, which have been numerous lately. What kind of humor do you enjoy as a couple? How as a couple can you infuse a little more humor into your time together?
When you are feeling disconnected and alone in your relationship, of course, your PACT therapist will guide and direct you and your partner to feel closer and more united. The therapist is very instrumental in explaining how relationships change and tools that a couple can implement to rediscover a more secure bond. However, in between sessions, when you and your partner need a little boost, you can use eye contact, hugs, and humor to foster the love that you shared during earlier times in your relationship.
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in the states of Maryland and Virginia. She works with couples who desire to improve their relationship with an ADHD partner. She is a Certified Gottman Couples Therapist and PACT Level 3 Candidate. Please feel free to reach out for a 30-minute free private consultation today.
This article originally published on The PACT Institute. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.