In my work with couples, certain themes have emerged that can help us understand how a couple that was once close can drift so far apart.

Drifting apart

• Somehow, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, couples seem to forget about each other. The initial closeness has been damaged by focus on work, the bills, the kids, you name it.

• Each takes the other for granted. What makes it worse is that it is so very easy to do. We get so caught up in simply living that we forget about making a life with our partner.

• Each stops treating the other well. Somehow we succumb to the notion that all the things we used to do that brought us together are no longer necessary.

• Resentments are held. Old grudges, hurts and resentments are a cancer that can eat away at the closeness of a couple.

• Communication stops. This is the most frequent reason given by couples as a factor in their drifting apart. Once a couple stops communicating, it’s just a matter of time before the roommate syndrome sets in.

If you recognize your relationship in the above examples, hang in there; you are not alone and there is a way out. Couples don’t plan on growing apart, they simply drift apart over time. Just the opposite is true about growing closer again. You don’t just drift into it, you intentionally take action designed to grow closer together.

Here are some tips from the couples I’ve worked with that have helped them grow closer again.

Getting close again

• Have a conversation about how you first met and what first attracted you to each other.

• Talk about the times you have felt the most connected. Then list the things you did that helped create that closeness. Then do those things again.

• Mention something your partner did that you enjoyed. For example, “I loved it today when you gave me a break from the kids/ held my hand/ hugged me/helped me at the office, etc.”

• Discover what your partner’s “love language” is. Do they most need to see it, hear it, or feel it in order to feel most loved? If you don’t know, ask.

• Ask your partner what their “perfect day” would be like and then create as much of it as you can.

• Renew and/or rewrite your vows. Who says we can say these important words only once? Renewing vows, commitments and words of love can rapidly and powerfully bring a couple closer together.

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist.

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