It’s a great feeling when you truly are connected with your partner. To enjoy a sense of togetherness and being a team, where you know and understand – and appreciate! – each other is what being in a relationship is all about. And yet many couples don’t value it.
In fact, research from the University of Minnesota, USA found that while togetherness was a top priority for 97% of happy couples, only 28% of unhappy married couples said it was of great importance to them. It’s easy to see the connection there. A feeling of togetherness helps strengthen your bond and makes you feel good in your relationship.
So find out how to boost your connection and enjoy the benefits yourselves.
Focus on why you have drifted apart
If you feel less connected because you spend less time together that’s a fairly straightforward thing to fix (see below) but if you feel removed from your partner because of issues you have with them as a person, you’ll need to work a little harder. Researchers from the University of California, USA, found that two of the top challenges faced by couples were communication and moodiness.
Figure out which of those could be triggering your feelings, then make strides to fix it.
Opening up to someone, even your partner, isn’t always easy but it is usually easier when the pressure’s off. So rather than desperately trying to create special moments where you can talk (a meal at a nice restaurant, for example), create moments that allow for free thought.
“A long drive or journey in a train can sometimes trigger the expression of thoughts or feelings,” says relationship counsellor and sex therapist Dr Ian Kerner. “But if you still feel shut out, try to view the kind of conversation you have slightly differently.”
Discussing the day’s tennis on the TV, for example, might not be the deep and meaningful conversation you’re after, but it’s a good first step. “For men, especially, talking about their favourite pastimes, whether it be fishing, football or film noir, is a deep way of connecting, so try to appreciate it.”
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When you first meet someone they show you their best side and probably make a lot of effort to see you smile or laugh. As time goes on, you'll get to see all their moods and that can be difficult.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for this but understanding what’s triggering the moodiness – not you! – can help. “Men are particularly prone to grumpiness as they get older,” says Kerner. “At least some part of that could be down to lower testosterone levels, which not only lowers energy levels and reduces libido, it also can trigger low mood and irritability.”
Don’t plan a big dinner with candles or serve up a fancy buffet-style breakfast, instead make the effort to have elevenses or 4pm tea together every day. “At breakfast time we’re often trying to plan the day and not really in a good state for conversation, and at dinner time we’re often hungry and tired,” says Kerner.
“So instead, try having tea and a biscuit or slice of cake together every afternoon, for example. It will feel like a welcome treat, a time to relax a little, and as you begin to look forward to those moments, you’ll also enjoy being together more.”
Rejig your schedules
Sometimes work or life or simply your preference of late nights over mornings (or vice versa) can get in the way of spending time together. Thankfully, though, it’s easily fixed.
You don’t need to change the way you live your life completely - if you love staying up late and he’s an early bird, don’t worry, but do a little adjusting so you can spend more time together.
For example you could get up 15 minutes earlier so that you can have a coffee or cuppa together in the morning. Or you could lie down with him for 15 or 20 minutes before he goes to sleep, then get up again to enjoy the rest of your late night. A little bit of flexibility here can go a long way to helping you feel close again.
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Do household tasks together
Being part of a team creates good vibes and doing household tasks together also gives you time to talk, too, without any pressure.
While some house-based tasks such as doing a DIY tiling job in the bathroom or trying to put flatpack furniture from Ikea together could cause frustration and even arguments, simple tasks such as washing up/drying up, folding and putting away the laundry together, cleaning windows or weeding the garden, for example, are ideal.
“When our brains are occupied with tasks that don’t require too much thought such as washing up, we think more creatively,” says Kerner. “There’s also no pressure to have an amazing time, unlike when you try to spend time together over dinner, for example, so you’ll likely find conversation comes more easily.”