Sometimes you can be in a relationship but feel utterly alone.
Why is that?
Is it because your partner doesn’t ask how you’re feeling or take an interest in you anymore? Is it because you’re not having those heart-to-heart talks like you used to when your love was new?
Or is it because your partner doesn’t seem to understand your need to feel close?
Maybe he or she is “busy” or distracted these days—with work, social media, their personal hobbies, or the kids.
Everything seems more important to them than your relationship: watching another episode of their favorite Netflix program, getting an extra 15 minutes of sleep, having a beer with their co-workers.
You feel as if you’re getting the dregs of their time and attention.
Also, you may relate to these sentiments:
He barely looks up from his smartphone when I walk into a room.
She doesn’t remember the things I tell her, then accuses me of not keeping her up to speed.
He’s emotionally shut down. I don’t know him anymore.
She’d rather talk to her girlfriends than spend quality time with me.
He doesn’t talk about anything other than politics, work, or the weather.
You don’t want to spend the rest of your life in this lonely, disconnected place. But you’re not sure what to do.
That’s where I can help.
In this article, I’m going to give you some practical, simple tips on how to get your partner to open up, share, and reconnect with you.
You can take these steps on your own or together. Either way, you’ll be learning one of the critical skills that keeps couples happily close for a lifetime.
But first, I want to share something that illustrates what can happen when you don’t have this critical skill in your relationship.
(And if you don’t feel heard or “seen” in your relationship, you’ll appreciate this next section.)
I have a friend who is also a therapist. She was telling me about a new client that came in to see her for a first session. As soon as this client sat down in her office, she started crying.
She cried and cried and cried. This went on for a while.
My friend didn’t interrupt. She patiently waited and stayed present. Finally, the client got herself together and my therapist friend asked her, “How can I help?”
The client said, “I don’t know. All I know is I just wanted someone to listen to me for an hour.”
I believe that just having a therapist sit there, willing to listen and stay present to her, moved her to tears. These weren’t tears of sorrow, they were happy tears of relief.
Someone had finally tuned in to her. Imagine how lonely this woman’s life must have felt!
We long to be seen, truly seen. It feels good when someone we love notices what we’re feeling and is curious about us.
It’s utterly painful when we don’t have that in our relationship.
I had a client session myself that illustrates how painful and frustrating it is when your partner isn’t attuned to you.
A couple came to see me from a different state, because the man had seen me on Oprah, and had to track me down to make an appointment. They were both medical doctors, so the man took care of rescheduling both their patients so they could take a couple of days off to travel to the session.
When they got to my office, he was a little late because he had to find a coffee shop in order to bring his wife her favorite latte.
Finally, they were both sitting in front of me. I asked them why they had come to see me.
The wife offered the opening line. She complained, “He never does anything for the relationship.”
“Let me see if I got that straight,” I said. “He tracked me down, made the appointment, rescheduled both your patients for the time you’d be out of the office, he walks in here with your favorite drink, and you say he doesn’t do anything for the relationship?”
It was almost funny if it wasn’t so telling!
The point here, is that you can knock yourself out being there for your partner and doing things for the relationship, but if he or she isn’t tuned in, they won’t appreciate it or even acknowledge it.
That’s why attunement is such a vital part of staying connected with your partner, and why it’s so critical to the happiness and longevity of your marriage.
You may be wholeheartedly agreeing right now, and wondering, what can I do to make my partner be more in tune with me?
While you can’t “make” anyone do anything, you can ALWAYS change what YOU do. You are the only person you can control. You can’t control your partner.
But you CAN inspire your partner to be more attuned to you, just by the very act of making positive changes in your own behavior. Your relationship is like a rubber band—as soon as one person tugs on it, the other person is sure to follow, and even a slight shift in how you relate can offer you hope.
That’s right. Even if you’re the only one taking action and making positive changes, you’re bound to see a difference in how your partner responds. And if both of you are taking part in this remedy, the difference can be remarkable.
So what action can you take to improve how tuned-in you are to your partner?
It’s simple, really. So simple, you may wonder how much of a difference it’ll make.
But if you don’t feel heard or understood by your partner (or vice-versa), chances are, neither you nor your partner are really present to each other as much as you could be.
Remember this: nothing is going to change if you change nothing.
Here are the 5 simple steps you can take to get more in tune with your partner:
So many people today get immersed in their phones, to the detriment of their relationships.
The simple act of looking up from your phone and at your partner when they enter the room, sit down on the couch next to you, or are having dinner with you at the kitchen table, can do wonders.
Don’t just look AT your partner, make eye contact. This is important if you want to know what they’re feeling. Are they content? Sad? Irritated? The eyes are the window to the soul, as they say. You can’t know your partner fully if you never make eye contact.
Listening is a skill…it’s a very important skill. It can be distressing to realize your partner isn’t listening to you. It’s very disempowering to say something and have them forget (or misunderstand) what you said or claim you never said it, because they weren’t listening! Being a good listener means putting your attention on the speaker, without preparing your response, without getting distracted by your surroundings and without interrupting.
The other key to being a good listener is not just hearing what’s being said, but doing these next two things…
Acknowledge what you’ve just heard. You can nod your head, say, “I hear you,” or lean forward. This seems obvious, but think about what happens when you say something to a friend and they roll right into their own story without acknowledging they heard anything you had to say. Or when your partner just gives you a blank look and goes back to their phone.
What does what your partner said bring up for you? Does it warrant a response? If not, do you have an opinion about what they said? You can also reflect back what you’ve heard in your own words. If you respond, your partner will feel that you’ve really listened.
Do these steps in this order, consistently, every chance you have, and watch as your relationship grows a little bit closer each time.More Tips
These 5 simple steps are just one of the small, positive steps you’ll get in my video program, Wake Up In A New Marriage, that can help you reconnect, and stay connected, with your partner.
I created my program to help couples who are in a contentious relationship, who are growing apart, or ones who just don’t feel that they’re “in love” anymore.
If you feel lonely and misunderstood in your marriage, this program is especially helpful.
In Class 2 of the program, you’ll learn all about the various ways you can tune in to your partner, so that you can once again feel like you have each other’s back.
Imagine…feeling SO heard and SO understood that you’re one of “those” couples. The ones with the private jokes, who are each other’s best friend, who know each other so well that they can almost finish each other’s sentences.
It’s possible, and you’ll actually see me interview real-life couples who have this skill down pat.
You’ll learn what the gender and hormonal differences are in how you talk and listen, and how you can use the science of communication to improve your relationship.
Understanding differences is all part of tuning in.
You’ll also learn what men need from women in order to feel GOOD about the relationship, and what women need from men—as it relates to tuning in.
…And much more in this 6+ hour program that also teaches you 4 other critical skills to keep your love thriving and your relationship resilient. It’s all here and you can start watching in a matter of minutes, risk-free:How to Tune In & Stay Connected
As I say in the program, you don’t have to practice every little step for 10 years, but you’re going to have to practice them longer than ten minutes if you want to see a difference.
Eventually, when you reconnect and start opening up to each other again, tuning-in to your partner will become as natural to you as the air you breathe.
May you have an extraordinary day,
P.S. Instead of nit-picking, complaining, or criticizing the next time your partner does something you don’t like, try asking your partner to do it a different way using a 6-word phrase that works wonders for maintaining goodwill and a strong connection.
You can learn all about this 6-word phrase toward the conclusion of Class 2 of my Wake Up In A New Marriage program, which you can find here:Start Watching