Have you been in a relationship for some time now, yet feel confused because lately you’re plagued with loneliness? Do you spend time remembering those first early months (even years) together when you felt happily connected? It all felt so easy then.
But now? Well, it seems life got in the way. Your life feels so ironic — constantly lonely within a relationship.
Sure, you’re under the same roof, but are you actually sharing conversation, much less quality time together? Has your intimacy suffered, too? Maybe you realize you didn’t tell your spouse about something important that happened, but you told your friend instead.
The reasons “why” are likely entirely legitimate. Maybe you’re working later than usual, or you and your spouse are on different schedules — two ships passing in the night. Or maybe you are “dividing and conquering” child-rearing as you both tackle tag-team-shepherding the kids to extracurriculars.
Day in, day out, marriage can get like this.
And guess what? If you ARE a couple like this — you’re normal! It turns out disconnect happens in this modern day non-stop life when you are busy building your dreams together. Disconnect is normal … and even better: it’s solvable.
Here are 6 wonderful ways to come back together and then KEEP great connection with your partner:
1. Recognize that chasing your dreams has taken its toll. Your feelings of loneliness didn’t happen suddenly, nor by accident. It’s not hard to lose site of putting your relationship first when you are busy building the life you dreamed of.
But now, take time to assess your daily routine and its impact on your relationship. You need a few tweaks, clearly. And that’s okay. Figure out what you can shift, move, reschedule, etc., to create space for more time together. Then, use that space to laugh together and rebuild connection.
2. Thank your partner. Yes, seriously. Even when your partner knows you appreciate them, they still need to hear it from you directly. Saying thank you is sometimes the first thing to slide when we get busy, and yet it is such a simple place to start: Thank you for making dinner; for working so hard at the office today; for folding the laundry; for paying the electric bill.
One easy way to keep the flow of thank you’s is to write a little note — one per day — and stick it in a place where your partner will find it. You’d be surprised how much these little messages increase relationship connection.
3. Don’t expect your partner to know what’s going on with you. Dr. Keith Sanford, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, warns against this common pitfall, noting that, “conflicts in which one partner expects the other to mind-read were more likely to lead to negative communication and anger.”
Learning a few tips on how to communicate more clearly — namely, using feeling statements and active listening — will ensure you truly understand each other without defaulting to misguided assumptions.
4. Be curious about your partner. They say love is in the details; the more we can picture our loved one’s experiences, the more we have to love about them. Skip with the unspecific “How was your day?” and replace it with curious questions like, “What was something you enjoyed about today? Tell me about that project; I’d love to hear the details.”
Likewise, don’t just be prepared to listen; be prepared to share, as well. If your partner doesn’t (yet!) ask pointed questions, take the initiative and discuss your own day in a detailed fashion.
5. Go to bed at the same time most nights of the week. There’s something about ending the day together that bonds us like nothing else. That’s why parents make sure to kiss their young ones good night at bedtime.
It’s the same for adults in a relationship. When we end the day together, we ARE together. Aim to get in bed together as often as you can, especially if you are already feeling lonely.
Touch triggers the hormone oxytocin, dubbed the “cuddle hormone,” which is also well-known for lowering stress, and increasing social bonding and feelings of well-being. Going to bed at the same time, chatting, and touching lovingly also sets the stage for an easier-flowing sex life.
6. Schedule a date night at least bi-monthly, even if it feels awkward at first. I cannot emphasize this enough. Prioritizing time with your partner allows you the space to reconnect.
If you haven’t been connecting well for a while, expect that it might take time to enjoy going out together again. Most importantly, try to incorporate novelty wherever you can — a new restaurant, a new game, a new walking route.
In fact, according to many love researchers, including social scientist Dr. Art Aron, novelty fosters bonding in couples. So, go novel on your date nights.
All relationships have ups and downs, and it’s normal to sometimes feel lonely within a relationship. When you acknowledge that loneliness is a sign your relationship needs attention, you can make the moves to get yourselves back in connection mode.
Start small and see what happens. Don’t expect magic overnight, but DO expect progress. By prioritizing connecting in real, effective ways, you will be on your way to feeling unified with each other again.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Feeling Lonely In Your Relationship? 6 Sweet Ways To Reconnect.