Tag Archives: relationship advice

Increase Emotional Intimacy Without Pursuing More

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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Emotional Intimacy Journal

Top 10 Relationship Growing Tips (in My Humble Opinion)

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I was recently asked if I could summarize what makes a marriage work in one word. And I honestly can’t. I have so many words to share with you.

In an attempt to keep it simple, I think marriage satisfaction increases when you work on yourself. And not just taking good care of yourself, but also caring for how you think and interact with your spouse.

Most marriage advice tells you how to get your relationship where you want it to be or how to get your spouse to meet your needs better. Well I am going to throw a wrench in these ideas, because I think both of these can make a marriage more miserable.

Think about it this way. If you think you know how your marriage needs to look or your spouse needs to be, then you are interacting with pressure and expectations instead of openness and respect.

It can be so hard to admit it, but we are part of the problem and luckily part of the solution too. Marriages do take work, but it’s working on ourselves not the relationship or our spouse that grows relationships.

Sharing My Top 10 Relationship Growing Tips

Not convinced yet? I have compiled what I think are the 10 best emotion and relationship tips I know so far. Read on and tell me what you think in the comments section.

Tip #1: Learn to Better Manage Your Own Emotions

Tip #2: Listen Without Taking It Personally

Tip #3: Better Understand Emotional Intimacy vs Emotional Distance

Tip #4: Communicate Anger Without Blame

Tip #5: Deal With Conflict and Differences Respectfully

Tip #6: Be Yourself and Let Others Know You

Tip #7: Reverse Resentment with Boundaries

Tip #8: Stop Expecting Others to Make You Happy

Tip #9: Resurrect Your Sexy Self

Tip #10: Find New Levels of Intimacy by Expressing Differences

While I haven’t given you a simple, quick fix solution for your marriage problems, I imagine you’d rather start working on self than waiting for your spouse to change. Even if you have to keep working on yourself every day, you will be boosting your own confidence and ability to interact personally along the way.

I’m always learning too, so I hope to keep adding and clarifying my list as I grow. I’ve spent far too many days trying to shape up my man, so I will spend the rest of them learning how to love my man better and how to be my best self.

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Please share your ideas in the comments, Facebook, and Twitter

Photo Credit: “Life’s Options” by Pink Sherbet 

3 Unique Ways to Enjoy Your Marriage More

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I have a confession to make. If you visited my mind, you would hear me blaming others for my unhappiness. I am thinking I would be happier if only I could get my kids to do this or my spouse to not do that.

Shocking I know to find out I am human too. I hope you find reassurance in my confession. Even relationship and personal growth gurus occasionally struggle with blaming others and shirking responsibility.

I know I’m not the only one that blames others for their own unhappiness in a relationship. I don’t like to stay in blame, because it prevents me from finding another way to think or relate. Let’s not simply wait for others to change, let’s do our part to live happier, more connected lives and relationships.

Redefine Marriage as a Personal Growth Adventure

When couples come to my office, I hear them attempt to find yet one more way to convince their partner to meet their needs. I know most marriage counselors encourage this kind of discussion, but I find it is just another way to (sometimes unintentionally) avoid taking responsibility for their part in the relationship.

Instead of finding another way to work on your spouse, I’m proposing something unique – working on your self. In other words, working on managing your own emotions, thoughts, and interactions with your spouse. In doing so, we redefine marriage as an adventure where you get an opportunity to define and grow yourself with each interaction with our spouse.

“Marriage is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Dr. Corey Allen, Simple Marriage Manifesto

Adventures can be fun and interesting. On your journey you will encounter  challenges and take risks. And if you allow yourself to view marriage from a new perspective, it will push you out of your comfort zone. When you view marriage as a personal growth adventure, it’s easier to take the challenge and enjoy the journey.

Growing Self as Way to Enjoy Marriage More

When you embrace the challenge of growing yourself (instead of your spouse), you will put less pressure on the relationship to keep you calm and happy. With less pressure, it is easier to connect intimately and enjoy each other’s company.

Turn the pressure into motivation to be the best mate you can be – interaction by interaction. On your personal growth adventure, cultivate three things in yourself:

1. Self-Awareness: Identify Your Part in Co-created Problems (Observe your positive and negative interactions with your spouse. What do you think your part is in the co-created distance and/or conflict?)

2. Self-Responsibility: Take Responsibility for Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Actions (We all have the tendency to either put all the blame on ourselves or the other person. Instead of shifting the blame back and forth, own just your part.)

3. Self-Directed: Become less Regulated by Others’ Reactions (How do you let your spouse’s reactions get under your skin less? Start to see your spouse as separate from you. Instead of fixing or avoiding your spouse, care curiously.)

The adventure of growing your self in never done, but you can learn to enjoy the journey. You will have many opportunities to work on yourself, especially in important relationships. If you fall in love with enjoying the adventure of growing yourself, you will enjoy the adventure of your life.

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Maybe you aren’t trying to enjoy your marriage more, but cope with your marriage ending. Read about 3 Important Ways to Cope When Marriage Ends.

Photo credit: “The future is yours” by Nattu