Aug 06 2023


Bridging Emotional Distance: Reconnecting With Your Partner Using Powerful Tools

Feeling emotionally distanced from your partner can be a heartbreaking experience, almost like living in a house with invisible walls. One minute, you’re sharing dreams, laughter, and pillow talk, the next, you’re coexisting in silent isolation, unsure when the divide began. Thankfully, the Gottman Method offers a wealth of tools to help bridge this gap. Let’s explore this together.

Understanding Emotional Distance

Emotional distance or disconnection can creep into relationships for a multitude of reasons: stress, life transitions, disagreements, or even the humdrum of everyday life. However, no matter the cause, the effects are often the same: a sense of loneliness and isolation that belies the partnership that a couple should represent.

Step 1: Acknowledge the Distance

The first step towards reconnection is recognizing the chasm. Have you ever noticed that your conversations have dwindled to mere exchanges about groceries or the weather? Or maybe the comfortable silences have grown uncomfortable? Acknowledging the change is crucial. I remember a time when my spouse and I, who used to talk endlessly, found ourselves at a loss for words during dinner. It was this silence that signaled to us something was amiss.

Step 2: Open Lines of Communication

Opening up a conversation about the emotional distance may feel daunting, but it’s an essential step. According to the Gottman Method, this needs to be approached gently and without blame. Start with stating your feelings and needs. For example, you might say, “Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from you. I miss our deeper conversations and closeness. Could we find some time to reconnect?”

Step 3: Practice ‘Turning Towards’ Each Other

Dr. Gottman suggests that emotional connection is nurtured through moments of “turning towards” each other. These are small instances of acknowledging your partner’s needs for emotional connection and responding positively. When my partner once shared how he felt unappreciated at work, instead of offering a quick ‘fix-it’ advice, I simply said, “That must be really hard. I’m here for you.” This small act of empathy helped him feel seen and understood.

Step 4: Foster Shared Meaning

Creating shared meaning is about building a culture that both partners feel a part of. It involves shared rituals, goals, and symbols. For my partner and me, cooking together became a ritual. We would play some music, sip on wine, and create a meal together. This simple act brought us closer, fostering a shared experience and creating a space where we could talk freely.

Step 5: Seek Professional Help

If you find the emotional distance too hard to bridge on your own, it’s absolutely okay to seek help from a therapist trained in the Gottman Method. Couples counseling can provide a safe and structured environment for you to express your feelings and needs.

Emotional distance can be a challenging hurdle in a relationship, but remember, it doesn’t have to signal an end. With empathy, understanding, and a willingness to reconnect, you can bridge the gap. Take it from me, someone who’s been there: the journey may require effort and patience, but the destination—a renewed emotional connection with your partner—is well worth it.


author avatar
Cristina Wood
I am a Psychotherapist with more than 17 years of experience. I've had the privilege of witnessing countless couples transform their relationships over the years. They've turned challenges into opportunities, differences into strengths, and communication hurdles into heart-to-heart dialogues. It's a beautiful process to see two people rediscover their connection and equip themselves with the skills to navigate future challenges with grace and understanding

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