How To Connect Without Making It a Big Deal
By Melissa Lee-Tammeus, PhD, LMHC, CCTP, CTMH, CCATP
Often times, couples get in ruts. The same mundane, daily grind keeps happening and time keeps moving . . . until, one day, you realize it’s been a LONG time since you and your partner have really looked at one another and connected. Sure, you’ve talked about adding bananas to the grocery list and texted one another to make sure someone gets the dog from the vet, or even sat together during a recital of your child’s 5th grade play and did the whole “proud parent” side eye at one another (We made that! Can you believe it?).
But when was the last time you really felt connected as a couple?
And, good grief, who has the time?
We make elaborate plans to “spend quality time” – and then they get cancelled because somebody has to do something else. There was that one meeting you forgot about, or a birthday party to go to that can’t be cancelled because you missed that other thing with them before, or that’s the week your daughter goes to her cousin’s for that thing . . . and the cycle continues.
But it’s nagging at you – you have got to spend some time with that person you committed your life to before you get consumed with why he doesn’t clean up the kitchen after making a sandwich or fold the laundry that has been sitting on the guest bed for a week rather than how great his eyes look when he wears that blue shirt you bought him.
So, you have to make some time. Period.
But, time is limited.
Consider these quick tips to try to sneak in those moments. It may just be enough to bring back the spark to get that recharge you both want:
1) Go for a walk together. No, really. Meet each other at a local park for a half an hour in between that errand you have to do and that meeting that they have to go to. Pencil them in just like you do your co-worker or that person at school who insists you have to come in to talk about the library fines your son has racked up. Walking may be weird if you’ve never done it together before. You may find that sitting on a bench together watching the clouds in the sky is more fitting. It might really end up being a National Lampoon’s Vacation at the Grand Canyon moment. That’s okay, too.
2) Eat together. You could both be standing up in the kitchen, over the sink, scarfing down a frozen burrito that lasts 10 minutes, tops. Or you could make an elaborate meal with candles and music and spend an hour together. Or you could sit in a car, in a McDonald’s parking lot after going through the drive-through and all you do is talk trash about all the people in the drive through. No matter which way you do it, do it together.
3) Do something nice for your partner. Slip a note into your partner’s car reminding her that she has a great smile. Send a steamy text in the middle of the day when your partner least expects it. Make their favorite sandwich and wrap it up for them to find in the refrigerator when they get home from that charity fundraiser they had to attend. They may wait to eat that sandwich the next day or you may have to remind them to check their phone to get that steamy text, but that’s okay.
4) Thank one another. Thank your wife for picking up the kids at school - look her in the eye when you do it – tell her she is a great parent and you are so happy to be in this together. Thank your partner for starting that load of laundry. Thank them for clipping the dog’s nails. Coupledom can get mundane in the daily tasks. Acknowledgment can make a huge difference. And yep, even thanking your partner for picking up the cat puke so you didn’t have to counts.
5) Remember together. Bring up a story of a time you felt connected. Remind your partner of that time you had great sex, or laughed really hard, or felt like a real team together. Reminisce on that one trip where you had way too much to drink together, or that great dress that made their legs look amazing, or that one time your partner was playing airplane with your son when he was a baby and ended up with spit up all over his hair and how you all started gagging and then laughing. Even the bad memories can be a great reminder that you made it through and are both still standing together.
Reconnecting doesn’t have to be a big deal. And if you are not used to doing it, these 5 tips may feel clunky or forced in the beginning. You may read this, give it a go, and your partner wonders what the heck has gotten into you. You may not get the response you expected. Or . . . you may get exactly what you hoped for.