Two things couples can do to restore closeness and chemistry

Indy Style

Do you sometimes feel like you and your spouse are more like “roommates?” Feel a need to put the “spark” back into your relationship?

Today on Indy Style, Dr. Erin Leonard, Psychotherapist and Author, “Loving Well, The Key To Satisfying and Joyful Relationships,” shares more on her #1 complaint from couples and her advice for getting back that chemistry, closeness and comfort in your relationship that you once had.Bringing The Joy Back

Most couples are on a pace to “run.” The daily list of “have tos” is endless: getting the kids off to school, long commutes, endless office hours, grocery shopping, homework, getting the kids to activities, making dinner, making lunches, feeding the dog, walking the dog, cleaning up dinner, laundry, housework, finishing work emails, and paying the bills. Throw in social commitments and family obligations and moms and dads are lucky if they are able take a deep breathe, let alone go on a date night.

Yet, there are two answers to restoring the closeness, comfort, and chemistry, and they do not require extra time. Actually, they save time.

These two things are empathy and accountability, and they only require one thing, an emotional shift.

Empathy. Unfortunately, this is the forgotten ingredient in relationships, which is tragic, because it is the one thing in life that conveys true love.

Let’s use an example, say one partner comes home from work crushed because she did not get the promotion she was promised, so naturally her husband’s first impulse is to try and fix it. After all, it’s not pleasant seeing his wife upset, so fixing it seems like the right move.  So, he offers advice like: “Go straight to HR tomorrow,” “Demand they reconsider you,”  “Quit–You can find something else,” Or “You’ll get the next one–move on.” Yet, this advice only seems to make his wife feel worse. Why? Because logic and rational problem solving strategies take the husband out of the emotional realm. Staying emotionally attuned for a moment is critical. When human beings are in emotional distress, the quickest way to help them recover is empathy. Empathy is shifting from how you feel to how your partner feels. Once you realize how your partner feels, gently say it:  “You must be so disappointed. I get it. I would be too.”  These three short sentences will change your world.

Empathy actually creates good tone in the Vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates in the medulla. The medulla controls the central nervous system. So, a little dose of empathy, immediately soothes and calms your partner. They also feel understood, and connected to you, which prevents them from feeling alone. All of these benefits in three short sentences.  After receiving empathy, your partner is in a better state to problem solve. You and your partner are now a team, and your partner feels loved. This is key.

Accountability. Own your mistakes in the relationship.

Let’s use another example. Say, on Saturday morning, your husband revoked his offer to pick up your son from basketball practice and take him to his friends cottage because he remembered he had a work commitment. You are furious because you made plans to play tennis, so you angrily refuse, saying, “I already made plans! Figure it out!” But, after tennis, the guilt hits you and you realize how selfish your response was. Instead of rationalizing and excusing your actions by thinking to yourself, “Three other people were depending on me for the doubles match” or “I never get to do anything for myself” or “It’s his mistake, he needs to deal with it,” just own it. Apologize for having a selfish moment and say, “I am really sorry. I should not have responded like that. It was selfish. It shouldn’t have been a big deal to leave tennis 20 minutes early.”

Every human being makes mistakes in their relationship. Nobody is perfect. If you can’t look at yourself, once in awhile, and say, “Wow, that was really selfish,” then you are not looking at yourself. We are human, which means we mess up in our relationships, but if we own it and apologize to our partner, we repair the damage, the slate is wiped clean, and we move forward with more self awareness, making us better partners and better people. Accountability prevents resentment and distance from creeping into the relationship and it sustains the trust.

In essence, if you replace advice giving with empathy, and own your selfish moments, you will quickly restore the closeness, chemistry, and comfort.

To learn more, visit

Facebook page is @DrErinLeonard


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