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.