When You’ve Grown Apart: How To Close the Distance

You’re at your work desk working on a proposal, it’s 8:15pm and you know your partner is watching the clock after having eaten dinner alone. You’re feeling the pressure of deadlines and work demands, and if you’re honest with yourself you know your relationship has taken a backseat recently as you try to get a handle on work projects. Guilt skips around in your brain and your stomach does a little flip when you think about your partner’s passive aggressive remarks about where your mind has been lately. I know I screwed up. I haven’t been present. I need to make a move to fix this.

 

A lot of couples I work with reach out to me because distance has grown between them, and they feel stuck on how to walk back towards one another. I get it – its awkward, communication has dropped off, you begin to avoid one another because talking seems to usually lead to criticisms and spats. You’re both feeling resentful, misunderstood, and lonely. Sexual intimacy has fizzled out, conversations are strained, and you’re both feeling panicky about the state of your relationship. This may surprise you, but there happens to be a silver lining here: You’re aware your relationship is in trouble, and even if you don’t know how to, you have a desire to make things better. Without these two things, you could expect the state of your relationship to continue to decline. 

 

I want to share with you ten tips on how to start finding your way back to each other. Trust me, if both of you want it, you can reconnect to a place that feels warm and secure again.

  • Do an act of kindness for your partner (make dinner, give them a hand massage, do the grocery run, give them a card or hand-written letter, bring home their favorite sweet treat, etc.)
  • Make a list of things you like and/or appreciate about your partner, and share it with them
  • Talk with your partner about what you’d like to work towards in the relationship with them
  • Acknowledge your contribution to the disconnect between you and your partner
  • Identify what have been barriers to you feeling close with one another, and work as a team to navigate and/or eliminate these barriers
  • Listen to your partner’s thoughts and feelings and attempt to understand rather than respond
  • Acknowledge your partner when they come home with a hug, kiss, or kind words
  • Read a couple’s self-help book together – Dr. Gottman’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” is a good one (and you don’t have to be married to read it)
  • Set aside time for the two of you to do an activity you both would find fun, exciting, or relaxing
  • Go to couple’s therapy

Hi, I'm Veronica Perez-Thayer, therapist for individuals and couples at Love Heal Grow Counseling.

I help hurting couples find a way through their differences to a place of love and togetherness.

You can read more about me or schedule an appointment here: About Veronica