“Can We Talk?” – 6 Steps to Start a Conversation When You’re Disconnected

Danny Silk

No one sets out to be disconnected in their marriage. However, we can easily end up there when we allow hurts and misunderstandings to remain unresolved. One of the most challenging things to do in any relationship is to move toward the other person when we’re hurting. However, the longer we allow fear and pain to fill the space between us, the more disconnected we’ll become. The only way to reverse course on disconnection is to bravely initiate a vulnerable conversation and invite the other person to reconnect.

Here are 6 steps to move toward a conversation with the goal of reconnection, even when it feels scary:

1. Change your goal from distance to connection.

When we have gotten really good at keeping a safe distance from each other, it is hard to imagine being in a loving relationship again. Having a conversation starts with identifying the goal of your marriage. Is it to keep a safe distance from each other, or is it to share meaningful connection and intimacy? When you change goals from distance to connection, it means dropping any cases you’ve been building against the other person, repenting for how you’ve allowed disconnection to happen, and letting the other person know you are putting your connection first.

2. Stop engaging in disrespectful conversations.

Disrespectful conversations often start to show up when there’s disconnection, and will only cause disconnection to increase. One of the classic signs of a disrespectful conversation is that both people sound like, “You, you, you.” If you’re talking about the other person instead of being vulnerable about your thoughts, feelings, and needs, then check yourself and adjust. Refuse to participate in any disrespectful exchanges.

3. Own and address your fear before having the conversation.

Taking some time to process what we’re feeling and identifying why we feel scared can actually help to lower our anxiety, and lowering anxiety is essential to bringing our best selves to a conversation. When our brain is jacked up with anxiety, our ability to think, communicate, and make rational choices is limited. Identifying what we’re feeling not only helps us think; it gives us the really good information we need to share with the other person about what is happening inside of us. It also prepares us to listen to hear what is going on inside the other person without anger, blame, threats, withdrawing, or any form of anxiety-producing actions or emotions.

4. Be ready to communicate what you need in the relationship.

When we have been in self-protection or distance mode for too long, we may have a hard time acknowledging our needs in the relationship. To move toward your spouse, you must first take time to realize your core needs. Do you need to feel valued, loved, appreciated, comforted, encouraged? Before moving toward another person, it requires the vulnerability to open up your own heart, admitting areas of need, and being willing to communicate those.

5. Be ready to listen to what your spouse needs in the relationship.

Though it might seem difficult to learn more about your spouse when you have felt hurt, moving toward connection requires getting really good information about what they need. Remember that meeting one another’s needs is the number-one thing that fuels connection and builds trust. The first person who can identify what the other person needs in the relationship and meet that need wins.

6. Be ready to adjust in order to better protect a repaired connection.

A successful reconnection conversation doesn’t just clean up existing messes that have led to a disconnect; it also identifies the areas where you need to adjust in order to build and maintain a better connection. Your goal should be to move forward from this conversation with motivation and a plan for staying connected.

There’s nothing more courageous than fighting for your connection by leaning into a tough conversation. Remember that you’ve not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. You’ve got this, and it’s worth it.




P.S. How have you built loving connection with your spouse, and what questions do you have to continue strengthening that connection? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. Perfect simplified advice for understanding eachother and speaking from a place of authenticity. Thank you this insight is pretty much speaking to me right now.

  2. How do you even begin when the other person won’t communicate? We’ve been married almost 24 yrs and I just don’t know what to do or say any longer. I’ve tried so many times over the years to try to get him to open up but it’s always left me frustrated and feeling very alone in what seems to be a one sided marriage

  3. Thank you so much for your blogs and your #KYLODaily!
    I have enjoyed them and look forward to them in my inbox every day.

    We are also enjoying "Defining the Relationship right now as a couple and helping to facilitate it in our church.
    Becoming a powerful person isn’t easy, but it has revolutionized my life!
    Way to go, Danny!

  4. What does a spouse do when connection is not desired by the other spouse. When seeking connection is met with rejection after rejection

  5. God is love! Choose love! Choose life! Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is our life!! We died with Christ; we were buried with Christ and rose with Christ; and ascended with Him to resurrection life in Christ Jesus. There are two laws in the New Testament eh? The law of sin and death, and the law of life in Christ Jesus. We are living according to life in Christ Jesus. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. (see Colossians 3)

  6. I’ve encountered this before, but I’ve just written it down and am contemplating–bringing to the Lord. When you say that one "needs to feel valued, loved, appreciated, comforted, encouraged" my gut response is that I don’t feel those things as needs. They would be nice to have, but if I never get them—and I do have them sporadically, but not consistently from my spouse–I will still live and function. And will be connected to Papa God and other people. I’m thinking that is a problem in me.

  7. Anonymous- you describe a marriage in my family. Because of unresolved issues in childhood, he is unable to give those needed things to her, except sporadically. But she too is choosing to love him and let God sustain her until he is willing to address his own needs.

  8. Been working for 5 years to break co-dependent habits in my marriage, working on MYSELF to stop enabling and care-taking. We have watched the KYLO series twice and I have worked hard to keep my love turned on, and stay open and vulnerable and express my needs, without demands, and with love. That has mostly been met with lack of compassion or desire to meet those needs, which I then take to God. BUT, my question is, when I share my needs for connection and love, my husband responds with HIS needs, but those needs are just demands to return to co-dependency, and for me to go back to "taking care" of his life, his emotions and his problems. He sees me expressing my needs the same as him expressing his needs. How do I deal with that?

  9. I’m reading this and thinking of my connection with my parents. They live with me and my large homeschool family and I have chosen disconnection with them. There seems to be no healthy conversation with them, they know nothing about these principles that you discuss here. However, it is so very hard to live under these strained conditions. How do I pursue connection and still keep a safe distance?

  10. My husband and I did the 14 day challenge and were surprised to see how disconnected we had become during 20 years of marriage. After going through the course I realize now why older married couples would tell us, that marriage takes work. I thought you just get married and that’s it. We both said we’re disconnected have gone into our two separate corners for protection. Thank you so much for this course, we are now connected and check in with each other to see, how we are each doing. I will admit, day one we were mad at each other, but we did the assignment and took care not to blame or finger point. Thank you so much

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