Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Establishing and maintaining a positive connection with one’s partner or spouse is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. However, emotional connectedness is not easy to achieve nor is it easy to maintain. Relationship struggles and conflict can often create a challenge for couples to remain emotionally connected as one of the first things to suffer during a conflict is communication. Communication is the key to building an emotional connection with a partner, it allows couples to express their inner most thoughts and feelings, creating a pathway to trust and partner unity.
Relationships just like life in general can encounter several ups and downs, so having a strong emotional foundation and connection will only serve as an asset when weathering a storm. Being emotionally connected to your partner requires ongoing communication, i.e., asking questions, responding to questions even when he or may have experienced a challenging day. By opening up to your partner during challenging times the benefits of communication are extended in both directions. The partner disclosing information gets to relieve some of his/her emotional baggage and be supported while the partner receiving the information gets to check in and know what is actively going on in the life of his or her partner when they are not together. This ongoing exchange allows emotional connectedness not only to remain intact but to become reinforced over time.
Here are a few key items to remain aware of if you desire an emotional connection with your partner:
Communication- making communication a priority in your relationship is essential to building and establishing an emotional connection with a partner or spouse. Partners must be willing to talk about both pleasant and unpleasant areas of his or her life and relationship, however in order to do so the environment must be conducive to do so.
Refrain from mixed messages- One of the biggest detriments to a relationship involves giving off mixed messages. By giving off mixed messages partners run the risk of conveying messages they did not intend to convey. Mixed messages can lead to frustration, uncertainty, animosity, and depression as one partner or both are unsure of what their partner is trying to tell them or perhaps their partners messages have a double meaning.
Force yourself to share- By making a concerted effort to share your thoughts and emotions you limit the possibility of closing yourself off to your partner. Many times when something unpleasant happens in our lives we have a tendency to self-isolate from others, shutting ourselves off physically, psychologically, and emotionally form those that care about us the most. If this course of behavior is allowed to continue uncorrected many couples will drift apart, creating an opportunity for someone else to enter the relationship.
Avoid defensiveness- Keep in mind in the course of a healthy relationship you must share the good and the bad. If you are willing to share and accept the good you must also be willing to share the bad. By becoming defensive when your partner is attempting to share information limits the type of information you will receive. When a partner or spouse becomes defensive the other partner typically will begin omitting or filtering information about of fear or concern for upsetting the other party. This does not help the relationship in anyway as the relationship is no longer free and open but rigid and restrictive to topic that are more superficial than concrete.
Do not make assumptions- Rather in order to both create and maintain emotional connectedness in a relationship surrounding what a partner is trying to say, ask for clarification. Do not jump to conclusions or make assumptions based upon what you thought you heard, make sure you heard and fully understand what your partner is trying to tell you by asking questions requiring a more detailed response.
Reggie & Renee
Reggie and Renee have been married for 2 years they have no children and are devoted both to each other and their respective careers. Recently, Renee lost her job as an editor 4 months ago and has struggled to find alternate employment. Feeling defeated and unsure of herself vocationally Renee begins to withdraw from the relationship. Reggie has tried multiple times to reassure Renee she will secure another job but it appears to fall on deaf ears. Renee and Reggie used to talk every night after work, now they only communicate when they have to. Both Reggie & Renee are uncertain as to what each other is experiencing and feeling which is something outside of their relationship norm. Are they past the point of regaining emotional connectedness?
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