7 Communication Techniques to Help You Close the Emotional Distance in Your Relationship

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By Roy Faget, MA

Do you feel miles away from your partner even when you’re sitting right next to each other?

Does it seem like you have run out of things to talk about?

Emotional distance is one of the biggest relationship and marriage killers. In the beginning of your relationship, you felt very close to one another. It was romantic, blissful, and your heart pitter-pattered when you were near each other. Over time, though, the gap between you grew larger and larger. The pitter-patters slowed down as life delivered you mounds of responsibilities, including bills to pay, households and children to manage, work stress, and other duties of adult life. Apart from deciding who makes sure the utility bill is paid this month, it might seem hard to connect at all.

The good news is that it’s not impossible to reclaim the closeness you felt in the beginning.

If you need some techniques to help close that Grand-Canyon-of-a-gap between you, read on to explore some communication tools that can help close the emotional chasm in your relationship.

7 Communication Techniques to Close Emotional Distance

1. Put Down the Device

First things first, put down your phone, tablet, or other device when you talk with your partner. There are few things that scream, “I’m not listening!” like someone messing around with a device when you’re trying to talk with them.

You may love technology, or you may hate it. No matter, prove to your spouse you love them more by putting down the device and giving him or her your undivided attention.

2. Ask Your Partner About His or Her Day

Asking your partner about their day seems simple enough, right? Here’s a new flash – it IS simple. Even in its simplicity, it can have a profound effect on your other half.

In addition, this uncomplicated act shows that you care. You even care about the little things that no one else would really care to hear:

  • What your partner had for lunch
  • Dishing on co-workers
  • Interesting conversations with customers
  • Random thoughts during the day

Like a steam engine, it may be difficult to get your partner to divulge these seemingly insignificant details. Keep trying, though. You may be surprised at the stories that unfold. After you ask, remember to listen wholeheartedly, too.

3. Employ Positive Reinforcement

Although it might make your relationship easier, your partner isn’t a mind reader.

What this means is that you must tell your partner when they do something you like.

Tell him you appreciate him brewing the morning coffee or you appreciate her taking the package to the post office.

By affirming these small acts, you are essentially communicating to your partner that what he or she does is noticed. In short, you’re saying to your partner, “You are important to me and I do not take you for granted.”

4. Reminisce About “Back When”

We may indeed live in the here and now, but reminiscing to “back when” can soften a heart into putty. The great thing about “back when” is that it can be 60 years ago or 6 months ago.

Love is amazing and intriguing. Talking about your sweetheart days can bring you closer together.

If you think you have nothing to talk about, try retelling old stories. Even after 100 times, some stories still foster a special connection between two people.

5. Learn to Speak Your Partner’s Love Language

People express and understand love in different ways. For instance, some people like to show their love through compliments and others like to give gifts. Many people enjoy doing things for others to show they care. The same can be said regarding how people accept love.

Your partner is a unique person in his or her own right. It’s your job as a partner to find out what makes your other half tick.

Have you noticed certain things that you do or say that seems to mean a lot to your partner? If so, do them more. This is what it means to speak your partner’s love language.

And if you’re not sure what your partner’s love language is – ASK!

6. Set Apart Some Time

It seems that an activity is easily forgotten unless you pencil it into your calendar. As odd as it may feel at first, set a few minutes aside each day specifically for talking with your partner.

You may exchange a few nervous and awkward glances in the beginning. It may even remind you of your first date! Still, once you take advantage of these precious few minutes, you’ll both recognize the benefits of time dedicated to each other.

7. Keep Your Heart Open

With significant emotional distance between you, it can be tempting to shut down. Sometimes it’s easier to just walk away rather than give an honest go at communication.

Don’t become a victim to this temptation.

All in all, it may be uncomfortable at first. And you may even feel silly the first several times you try to bridge the emotional distance with these communication techniques. Don’t give up, though. Your relationship, your partner, and you are all worth the effort.
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Roy Faget, MA, is a licensed marriage and family therapist associate at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Contact him for scheduling at 512-270-4883, ext. 109, or request an appointment with him on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.