“Disconnection, you see, is like the first sign of a cold. Monday’s sniffle becomes Wednesday’s misery. Disconnection is like the sniffle: benign enough, no big deal. Easy to miss or ignore. But just as the sniffle becomes the sore throat, our disconnection eventually leads to increasing irritation with our spouse.” -Katie Read
10 Minutes to Heal Your Relationship
by Katie Read, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Remember the last time you and your partner sat together on the couch cuddling, talking, and really reconnecting? Remember how great it felt to hold hands, be present, and enjoy each other’s company without distractions? Remember that?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Neither do most couples, once they get past the blush of early dating or becoming newlyweds. And when I ask parents of young kids when they last spent time reconnecting, the blank stare is priceless—and is quickly followed by the huge list of reasons that it’s totally impossible.
But it’s not impossible. And, for the health of your relationship, I’ll go so far as to say it’s vital.
I call it “Ten Together,” and I suggest it to all my couples struggling with disconnection.
Disconnection, you see, is like the first sign of a cold. Monday’s sniffle becomes Wednesday’s misery. Disconnection is like the sniffle: benign enough, no big deal. Easy to miss or ignore. But just as the sniffle becomes the sore throat, our disconnection eventually leads to increasing irritation with our spouse. We’re suddenly a little less patient, a little more grouchy. Then we’re snapping at each other. Then we’re full-blown arguing, wondering why we ever chose this insane, irrational person in the first place.
So how do you stop disconnection in its path, before the virus multiplies freely in your relationship? Ten Together.
Here are the basics:
- Your goal is 10 minutes a day (or more, if you choose) dedicated to reconnecting. For these 10 minutes, you and your spouse will sit together, cuddle, and talk. Feel free to share something you enjoy together like a glass of wine, but don’t let it be an activity that creates a distraction from one another. And on that note…
- No distractions. No phone, TV, or internet. If you have kids, this is optimally done once they’re in bed for the night.
- Include touch. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they miss the constant physical contact of early dating. Hand-holding, an arm around the shoulder—studies show the tremendous psychological impact these gestures have. Don’t underestimate cuddling as a tremendous natural stress-reliever for both of you.
- You can certainly talk about your day, but try to talk a little deeper, too. What else happened, besides the basics? How did you feel today? What’s been weighing on your mind lately? Some of my couples choose to do brief “gratitude lists” during their Ten Togethers, to keep them focused on positives and out of simply complaining about work for 10 minutes. And Ten Togethers are meant to be enjoyed! Which leads to…
- Enjoy it! Come in the warm spirit of reconnecting and you will reap the benefits. Many clients have told me that Ten Togethers had unexpected benefits. Exhausted moms saw their libidos towards their partners increase. Men found themselves remembering the woman they first dated. No relationship suffered by getting some time dedicated to nurturing it.
Ten Togethers are powerful nightly rituals. If your relationship has gone beyond simple disconnection—your cold is on its second box of Kleenex—some additional advice:
- If you are too angry to talk, sit together anyway, and hold hands. Sometimes this helps break through to the feelings under the anger.
- If talking just leads to arguing, call time out. Ten Togethers are meant to be positive times. You can keep arguing, but see if it’s possible to bookmark a separate 10 minutes as a real Ten Together, perhaps once the argument is over.
- If it’s impossible right now to talk at all without arguing, you might strongly consider counseling. Even a few sessions of couples counseling is often enough to dislodge stuck arguments and help the relationship move more freely again.
Try it! I would love to hear how it goes. Remember, missing a day is fine. Missing two or three probably means that you are prioritizing other things over the health of your primary relationship—and at the end of the day, if you are choosing to spend your life with this person, what is more important than the relationship?
Please leave a comment and let me know about your Ten Togethers! A daily dose will likely clear your disconnection right up.
Katie Read, MFT provides mental health therapy and counseling in Roseville and Granite Bay, CA. She loves working with individuals and couples. Please visit her at www.katiereadtherapy.com.