My wife and I have been married for 28 years. For the last three to five years we have been having problems. Over the last 18 months I have moved out four times. Our biggest problem I believe is communication. I will admit that we have lost the emotional connection. How can we re-establish the bond we once had?
It is not unusual for couples who have been together for a long time to begin to lose the fervour that characterised the relationship in the earlier years. Over the period they would have been focused on home building, family planning, career development, and other important individual and couple-related matters and spent little time cultivating and nourishing the relationship. So instead of strengthening the emotional bond they slowly drift apart and soon become strangers or roommates with shared amenities.
In such a situation one or both have exited the relationship emotionally and is waiting for the right moment to remove him/herself physically. In other instances, they have an unwritten agreement to let things remain as they are and stick to the evil that they know, as starting all over again is going to be rough.
It would be interesting to know what may have caused the problems. Is it that the problems were always there but surfaced in recent times where one or both was overwhelmed, and resentment has now set in? Are you both experiencing the empty nest where all the children have left and you both are now forced to interact with each other as the children are not there to create a buffer anymore?
Your way of dealing with the situation is to retreat and you have done so, which is an indication that you would rather avoid confrontation. Also, you have a vested interest in the stability of the marital relationship which is why you keep coming back every time you run away.
Instead of fleeing the scene it would be best to confront the situation and try and deal with the matter frontally. If you feel that communication is a problem, then learning effective communication skills would be gleaned through marital counselling sessions. You will also learn conflict resolution skills that will aid in reducing the tension that may exist.
Rebuilding the emotional connection would mean taking active steps to rekindle the love and affection you both shared at the dating and honeymoon stages of the marriage. So dating each other again would be a good start. Dedicate some time in the day/week where you both share quality time reminiscing on the memorable moments of the past and even re-enacting some of them.
The key is to re-energise and redouble your efforts at not just talking about what you would like to do, but to get up and do it even though you may not feel up to it. It would be much easier to maintain the status quo and do nothing; that is, if you want to spend your later years miserable and unhappy. If, however, you desire to live happily together, then intimacy and emotional nourishment must continue just as important as nutrition is vital to your physical body.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . Check out his work on www.seekingshalom.org and his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MFTCounselor/ .