5 Ways to Improve Communication, Love, and Intimacy in Your Marriage

Teresa and Carl, both in their late forties, met at work a year after Teresa’s divorce. By no means did she feel ready to fall in love or enter another relationship so soon after her marriage ended. However, Teresa finally gave in and agreed to date Carl because he was so charming and persistent.

From then on, they were a committed couple who spent most weekends together, and they were married within six months. Things went well during their dating and early marriage until Carl was fired from his job as a reporter at a local newspaper a year after their marriage.

The timing couldn’t be worse for this remarried couple raising two teenagers. Tension began to rise in their household and Teresa’s two children, Kara, 15, and Thomas, 12, began to argue more with Carl and feel upset that their mother was so stressed.

Then, four months after Carl was fired, Teresa was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called alopecia, which causes hair loss, chronic pain and fatigue.

Teresa reflects, “My girlfriends all say that Carl takes me for granted. I work so hard that he’s been laid off for a year and doesn’t even do 50% of the housework. My illness leaves me feeling exhausted and unattractive. He’s a good husband but our intimacy is starting to suffer because I’m working more hours at my sales job to earn extra commission. I’m not sure Carl still loves me.

Carl reports: “Teresa is always tired and grumpy dealing with the pain and pressure of having to work hard and be the breadwinner – especially since my unemployment checks stopped coming. I love her but I feel very criticized by her.

Teresa and Carl’s feelings for each other had become mostly negative and they weren’t giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Due to months of financial stress and illness, the positive feelings they had had at the start of their relationship had evaporated and they were questioning each other’s intentions. In other words, when Teresa took off their rose-colored glasses, they were caught off guard and faced with major stressors, which made it difficult to build a culture of good feelings in their home and their relationship.

According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the powerful ways to restore positive feelings towards your partner is to take responsibility for your state of mind. In other words, don’t let the blame monster invade your home and stop pointing out each other’s flaws. When problems arise, first seek to understand. Next, you must begin to respond to your partner’s demands for connection by practicing emotional attunement.

For example, when Teresa comes home exhausted and seems like she wants to talk, Carl might offer her a glass of water or a cup of coffee and suggest they sit down for a while before cooking dinner. If they focus on finding the other doing something good, they’ll start the night off on a positive note rather than indulging in criticism, put-downs, or sarcastic comments. Also, if Carl praises Teresa for continuing to work a stressful job while taking care of their two children, it will help her face a difficult day more calmly.

5 Ways to Increase Communication, Love, and Intimacy:

  • First make sure you understand, then seek to be understood. Respond to what your partner is really saying in the moment. Listen to their experience, more than yours.
  • Freely communicate your admiration and affection for your partner
  • Offer loving affection to your partner daily
  • Catch your partner doing something “good” and praise them for it
  • Practice offering mutual gratitude regularly

In conclusion, both partners need to heal when breakups and misunderstandings arise. This healing can happen non-verbally, often simply by holding on (rather than pulling back). The act of holding can reawaken early childhood experiences of comfort. Language did not lead to comfort then. On the contrary, being held tightly by a caring person produced the comfort you needed to feel secure. Couples need to learn how to bond in non-sexual (as well as sexual) ways so they can feel safe and loved again.

Over time, if couples dedicate themselves to expressing more positive ways of showing their love and affection, the tension in their relationship is likely to decrease. There are no easy solutions to dealing with marital difficulties. However, taking responsibility for your part in the issues and committing to love your partner more fully through words and deeds will help restore communication and love in your marriage.

Find Terry on Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpassedivorce.com. Terry’s award-winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcoming the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoying a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. His new book The Remarriage Handbook: How to make everything work better the second time was published by Sounds True on February 18, 2020.

I would love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thank you! Sponge

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