You are feeling lonely, so you nudge your spouse: “I wish you listened to me like my friends do. It’s so hard for me to talk to you.”
Spouse responds with, “What are you talking about? I’m listening now.”
“When you stare at me with that blank face, I think you don’t care at all about what I have to say.”
Spouse reacts with, “That’s insulting. Of course I care about you.” Then spouse storms out of the room.
Has this ever happened in your relationship? You give subtle nudges for more attention and approval. Yet when you try to get closer to your spouse, you end up co-creating more distance!
That’s because our mate’s can sense when we are emotionally pulling and pushing on them, even if it’s subtle. And when we feel pressured or pursued, a natural reaction is to withdraw, shut down, or defend. Thus trying to pull your mate closer can actually bring more distance.
The key to increasing emotional intimacy is learning to see your spouse as emotionally separate from you, while maintaining good personal contact.
3 Ways to Increase Emotional Intimacy Without Pursuing More
Let’s break down how to feel closer without trying to pull your spouse closer, so you can find the choices you never knew you had!
1. View Your Spouse as Separate Than You:
If you think you spouse’s behavior is a reflection of how he/she feel about you, then you will start getting critical and increase your emotional distance. Instead of assuming your spouse is avoiding you, find a more objective way to think about his/her actions.
For instance, if your man is being quiet when you talk, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you. He may be concentrating hard, preoccupied with his own stress, or nervous about how to respond. When you think of your spouse as emotionally separate than you, then his or her behavior doesn’t define your self-worth.
2. Change We Goals into I Goals:
“We goals” involve trying to get the other person “on board” with what you want to receive. When you approach someone with a “we goal,” you are either taking responsibility for the relationship or your spouse. So when you try to get them to be a better spouse, you may be met with defensiveness or distance. Examples of we goals:
- To be closer as a couple
- For us to communicate better with each other
- To improve our relationship
Instead of pursuing your mate with “we goals,” try changing your interaction goal into something you can control. In doing so, you approach him/her with more confidence and intimacy. An “I Goal” is less dependent on your loved one’s response, because it is taking responsibility for your emotional needs. Examples of I goals:
- To tell spouse about myself without expectations or assumptions
- To be less critical and more curious without pressure for other to respond
- To take my spouse’s interactions less personally
3. Be Social and Develop Friendships:
I am not suggesting having an affair. Nor am I suggesting telling your friends and family all the negatives about your spouse, so you have more people on your side. Obviously this will help create more emotional distance in your relationship.
Instead, remember most relationships can’t handle being the only source of social support for each other. If you expect your spouse to meet all your social and emotional needs, the well may dry up.
When you are better connected socially, you have more wells to drink from. You come back from social outing with your well full, so you are less needy in your most important relationship. So how do you meet your social needs without solely relying on your spouse?
When you can see you and your spouse as more separate emotional beings, you can actually be more present and connected. You are freer to share yourself without pressing on your loved one to respond in a certain way. Thus increasing your emotional intimacy.
Questions and Comments are welcome…
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