Eight ways to build connection in relationships
It is easy to become disconnected. Disconnection comes from a place of fear. It’s when we tell ourselves that we're being too emotional, too depressed, that no one will want to hear what we have to say, and no one would understand.
When we are disconnected we feel more separate from others; we withdraw intimacy and often arguments increase. The way your partner never squeezes out the sponge after washing up suddenly becomes seriously irritating!
What can we do to build emotional connection?
Connection comes from that true, healthy, adult part of ourselves that we can all tap into. When you find yourself spiralling in stories, or overthinking, try box breathing to bring you into the present moment and into your adult state. Box breathing is simply breathing in for four, holding for four, breathing out for four, holding for four and so on.
Here then, are eight ways to help you foster connection in your relationship, split into two sections. The first section is about safety – building safe connection together. The second section is about creating exciting connection.
Safety in connection
1. Sharing your emotions – make time each day for both of you to sit down, without interruptions (including mobile phones), to share how you are feeling. The aim here isn’t to give advice or fix anything, it is simply to be a loving witness to each other’s feelings and reality.
2. Ask questions – it’s so easy to tell ourselves stories about the other person. ‘He left his bag by the door because he’s lazy and couldn’t be bothered to pick it up’ – we assign meaning and jump to conclusions. Perhaps the truth was that he left the bag there because he was going out again. The truth is, we don’t know until we ask.
3. Show compassion – you are having a hard time and appreciate when others are kind and gentle with you. Give your partner that gift too. When they leave the lid off the toothpaste again, is it really a big deal?
4. Conflicts and compromise are normal – it’s OK to argue. In fact, it’s healthy. Speaking up and working through our differences can clear the air and bring us closer together. It’s when we keep quiet to ‘preserve the peace’ that we build separateness.
Excitement in connection
5. Learn each other's preferred love languages – if you feel appreciated when your partner cleans the house or puts the kids to bed, chances are that one of your top love languages is 'acts of service'. If, on the other hand, a warm hug lights you up, then 'physical touch' might be your top love language. Learning each other's preferences can help you respond to them in ways that are most meaningful to them.
6. Trying out new things together - whilst it’s great to have your own individual pursuits, you can build connection by doing new things together. Maybe it’s cooking something new together, or trying a new game like chess, learning something new together, or doing a fitness class together. You are partners in adventure.
7. Share your hopes and dreams – it’s easy to forget during dark times that it's nearly always temporary. Whilst we don’t need to minimise or ignore the pain and difficulties in our own lives and others, we can also remember and share what our hopes and dreams are with our partner. We can visualise our dreams in detail, imagine ourselves there, and invite the universe to help us make them a reality.
8. Consensual touch and sex – exploring what makes us feel good, what makes our partner feel good and seeing where we can expand our joy and pleasure together.
As human beings, we are all connected. Fear can disconnect us, but when we slow down, come into the present and into our healthy adult state, we can use some of these different ways to rekindle and grow our connection with our partner so that it is stronger than ever. If you are feeling that your relationship may need further help, maybe consider talking to a professional life coach. Many offer specialist relationship advice, either face-to-face, online or by telephone. Feel free to contact me for more information.