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Filling up the gas tank posted Oct 5, 2018

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Just yesterday a woman in my private Facebook group asked me what she can do to create more connection with her husband. She’s in midlife, has school-aged children and both she and her husband work full time. Life is busy, to say the least, and because of that, it’s easy for her and her husband to lose connection with each other. They don’t spend as much time together as they would like and in the rat race of the day in day out, the two of them are becoming more disconnected from each other. 

It makes sense that this is happening, but disconnection is a risky place to be. One of our most basic emotional human needs is to be connected and if we start losing connection with our primary partners, our relationship is in trouble. At best, boredom sets in and we become roommates living under the same roof. At worst, we begin to argue more and more, trust erodes, we start blaming each other for everything, and before we know it, we’re talking separation or divorce.

My facebook friend doesn’t want separation and divorce. She and her husband have been married for years. They share children and a life together. I told her that building connection back is the single most important thing she can do to not only save her marriage from dissolving but to make it the strongest it has ever been.

Here’s the thought and behavior pattern we get into as a couple, and it only makes things worse. If you’re part of a couple suffering from disconnection, tell me if this is true for you. We think to ourselves “I’m giving him everything he needs. What’s happening? Why are we losing the closeness we used to have?” Or, “We’re arguing a lot more and I don’t like that, especially in front of the kids. I’m going to shut up and not say anything. It’s better to be quiet than to argue.”

There is one primary antidote to disconnection and it seems counter-intuitive. The truth of the matter is she is giving him everything he needs except for what he needs. Basically, we all speak different languages of love and connection and if we do not recognize that and act upon it, our coupledom is a huge risk. She needs to discover her partner’s love language and then speak it to him.  She needs to find out what he needs, but directly from him- “How do you like to be loved? How will you know that you’re being loved? What has to happen for you to feel loved?” Once she knows the answers to those questions, she can begin to express her love to him the way he wants it versus the way she thinks he wants it, or worse yet, the way she would want it herself.

An analogy to think of is the gas tank.  We have to constantly be aware of the gas tank in our cars, right? Once the tank is low, we’d better fill it up, or at least put some gas into it, if we’re going to avoid breaking down on the side of the road.  Same deal with our intimate partnerships.  If we don’t keep our partner’s love tank full, we’ll break down on the side of the road.

Here are the questions to ask yourself:

1.      How often do you focus on your partner’s love tank and keeping it filled?

2.      What type of gas are you filling it up with?

3.      What is your primary love language?

4.      What do you think is your partner’s primary love language?

5.      Given your partner’s love language, what new action can you take today to make him or her feel more significant?

I can guarantee that if you (and my facebook friend) can answer these questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge, you (and she) will be well on the road to increasing connection with your partner.

____________________________________________________

2120 PointsGold

Kimberly Riley

/ Midlife Transition and Relationship Coach