Helpful ways to restore loving connection.
How “good” was the last good conversation you had with your partner?
Did you talk about how much you care about each other? Check in on each other’s long held dreams? Encourage one another, laugh together, or praise each other?
Did you really talk?
Don’t you want to?
When couples complain that they “don’t talk anymore,” they are often signaling something much deeper. One or both partners may actually be saying, “We don’t connect anymore.” He or she may even be wondering if they matter anymore. If this goes on long enough without intervention, one or both partners could be feeling so lost and alone that they can’t imagine living the rest of their life this way.
If conversations with your partner lately have been stifled by silence or mired in mundane chats about your usual mountain of family responsibilities, career obligations, and crazy schedules, you may need a few tips for restoring quality communication and recharging your connection.
Consider the following strategies:
1. Be intentional. Decide today that better communication is important to you. Mentally ready yourself to approach your daily interactions differently. Go first. Show him or her that you really want to connect again. Make it easy for your partner to talk to you. Touch his hand. Look in your partner’s eyes and simply say ‘let’s talk’. You’ll be hard to turn down and your partner will appreciate your sincerity and attention.
2. Be available. Timing is important for a really meaningful conversation. Make time to indulge in deeper conversations. Good communication requires your presence, physically and mentally. Use the moments between obligations to check in, send an encouraging note or text, or schedule a date. Loving feelings will grow each time you share. Don’t be afraid to put the world aside to really see and hear each other. No laundry, no glowing screens, no kid’s activities. Nothing scheduled but togetherness and time to talk.
3. Be Attentive. Pay close attention to what your partner is sharing. You’re probably full of a million things you’ve been dying to share. Or you’re so out of practice that you’re mentally running through ways to add to the conversation. Try to be a good listener instead. Ask questions and sincerely reflect what you heard. Read your partner’s body language. What does it tell you about how they feel? Is his or her tone animated or intense? Study your partner and what matters to him/her now.
4. Be Brave. Sometimes ‘we don’t talk anymore’ because we’re afraid something important and unresolved will come up. It’s okay. The object of good communication is to be open and honest. You can disagree with love. Say what is on your mind in an effort to build bridges between you rather than to blame or build walls. Let your partner know how you feel. Ask questions about how he or she thinks tough issues may be affecting you both. Try to stay focused on a resolution. Allow for the fact that some issues won’t be resolved. Either way, accept that conflict is a healthy part of any long-term relationship and can be incorporated into mature, considerate sharing.
5. Be Respectful and Understanding. Keep in mind that you’re in this life together. You’ve chosen each other, and your commitment deserves compassion and respect. Speak kindly and thoughtfully. Show each other a large measure of grace until regular, meaningful communication becomes a habit again.
Finally, if you and your partner are struggling with ineffective communication habits, have made some progress but have come to a stuck point, or are at a loss for where to begin, please do not hesitate to reach out. An experienced couple’s therapist is a valuable communication resource who can guide you towards your relationship goals.
Choose today to fill the silence and replace the small talk with the fruitful, caring conversation you’ve been longing for.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT