Part one of two columns
Have you ever felt like your soul mate turned into your roommate?
You wish you held the spark you once had for your mate. But you’ve been avoiding each other for so long. And, now you are unsure how to get over the wall you’ve built and light the fire of emotional intimacy.
Emotional distance is one of the primary complaints of couples that come to my office for marriage counseling. While I think it’s normal for romantic love to wax and wane over time, it’s very uncomfortable to lose that loving feeling for your partner.
What is emotional distance?
Many couples get emotional distance confused with marriage differences. Having a different goal or interest than your spouse doesn’t mean you have emotional distance. People can have very different interests, yet still have great intimacy and chemistry.
True emotional distance is a pattern of interactions. It is an emotional response to a perceived threat, and doesn’t occur without conflict. In other words, emotional distance is co-crated in an attempt to avoid conflict or feelings of hurt and rejection.
Almost everyone enjoys a little distance from time to time. It only becomes a problem when it erodes the emotional intimacy between a couple. To this extreme, you may feel little or no romantic feelings for your partner. It doesn’t have to end here, you can turn your feelings back on.
What is emotional intimacy?
First, you must understand what it is you’re wanting back. I’ve asked many couples how they define emotional intimacy, and each person has a somewhat different answer. To me, emotional intimacy includes both non-verbal and verbal interactions:
• physical attraction and touch
• eye contact
• openness about a variety of topics
• ease and comfort with each other
• more positive than negative feelings/thoughts about other
• sense of connection and knowing of self/other
• genuine care/regard for other’s best interest
• appreciation and shared leadership
Before we explore how to rekindle the lovin’ feeling that you’ve lost for your spouse, I would love to hear what emotional intimacy looks like to you.
Become a better observer of yourself. Identify what your part is in helping create the very thing you don’t want in your relationship. And be ready to light your own fire.
Marci Payne, resident of Lee’s Summit, is an Individual and Marriage Counselor in private practice: http://www.marcipayne.- com.