Do you feel your emotionally and intimately drifting apart from your spouse? Do you feel unhappy because the connection you once had seems to be diminishing? If so you’re not alone. Drifting apart seems to happen to many married couples. Work, children, hobbies, errands and other responsibilities seem to often take priority over a healthy relationship with the spouse. To help understand the impact drifting apart from your spouse can have your marriage and what you can do to avoid drifting apart, I have interviewed therapist Patricia Anderson, MEd, LPC, NCC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I have15 years of experience counseling individuals, couples, and groups. I received my Masters Degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994. I pursued additional training in mind body medicine to incorporate a holistic view of psychological health and well-being into my practice. I used these skills at Georgetown University for 5 years counseling and promoting wellness among the faculty and staff. I continued to facilitate Mind Body Skills groups with medical students at Georgetown University. My areas of expertise include working with individuals who are experiencing depression, anxiety, relationship issues, stress, trauma, and eating disorders. Additionally, my practice includes working with couples to promote healthy relationships by developing skills and increasing insight and understanding.”
Why do many married couples drift apart from their spouse after being married for some time?
“A healthy, connected relationship takes work and attention. Our focus can be diverted by day to day responsibilities leaving the marriage to languish and allowing partners to drift away from each other. The good news is that generating intimacy through shared experiences and attending to each other’s needs reminds us of the feelings and experiences that brought us together in the first place.”
What type of impact can drifting apart from your spouse have on their marriage?
“For many, the reasons to be together are feelings of closeness, love, and companionship. These feelings of connectedness are difficult to generate when feeling distant from your partner. The distance can feel isolating, depressing, and leave one searching for what they once had with their spouse. Sometimes feelings of love, closeness, and companionship are lost and difficult to recover due to drifting off in different directions. This can make it difficult to recapture what the couple once enjoyed about being together.”
What can a married couple do to avoid drifting apart from their spouse?
“Don’t let the business of life be all that you have in common. Get away from the lists of tasks and spend time with each other generating shared experiences. I have found both personally and professionally that relationships take work and they need tending to stay healthy and connected. Many of us make an effort to keep in touch with friends and make a point to spend time together to keep those friendships close. When was the last time you sat down with a good friend and talked with them about when to go grocery shopping or pick-up the cleaning? Of course you wouldn’t, but many couples find they spend most of their time talking about the kids, the to-do lists, and the logistics of life.”
“Another aspect of staying connected is good communication. Most of the couples coming to me for counseling are having difficulty communicating. The cornerstone of good communication is active listening. It requires the person listening to get outside of him/herself for a moment and pay close attention to what your partner is saying and the emotion he/she is trying to convey. If we feel, understood and validated we feel known by our partner in a very intimate way.”
What last advice would you like to give to a married couple that wants to become close once again?
“For your relationship to stay healthy, it needs attention. A great beginning is to focus on having more shared experiences and spending time having fun again. If you have a child or children, don’t fall into the trap of only talking about the kids when you are out together. I know they are entertaining and delightful, but don’t let the kids be all you have in common.”
Thank you Patricia for doing the interview on how to avoid drifting apart from your spouse. If you would like to contact Patricia Anderson you can email her at email@example.com or check out her website on dcmindbody.com.
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