After a couple of decades of marriage, I realized something unsettling: My wife and I had grown apart. We rarely had deep discussions. We mostly just parented together. And even as we parented, it just felt like we were in different places. I wasn’t sure how we’d gotten there, but I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to stay. I had to figure out how to close the distance in a relationship that was struggling.
If two people don’t work at cultivating intimacy, they will not develop it accidentally. Instead, over time, the distance between them will grow, and they’ll feel like strangers. The course can be reversed, but it’s going to take time and intention. Here’s how to close the distance in a relationship that’s grown apart.
1. Ask good questions.
How does your wife perceive your relationship? Does she agree that you are distant? And if she does, what does she attribute it to? If she doesn’t, is she satisfied with where you are? Asking questions helps you create space for your wife to actually help name what is going on before you begin doing the work.
Of course, if you’re going to ask questions, you better listen to her response. And I don’t just mean you need to hear the words she says. You really need to listen to understand. If she’s heartbroken, you know she cares as much about repairing this as you do. If she’s callous, you’ve got to figure out how to rekindle the fire in your relationship. Either way, you can’t understand how to close the distance in a relationship that’s grown apart if you don’t listen to what your wife’s telling you.
3. Tell the truth.
It may be tempting in this situation to say whatever it is that you think your wife wants to hear. After all, your desire is to close the distance, to rekindle romance. It’s easy to take a “whatever it takes” approach. However, if the desire is lasting intimacy, you have to tell her the truth about how you’re feeling. Are there things she’s done to push you away? Are there ways she has hurt you? Perhaps there are confessions you need to make? This can be incredibly difficult, but it’s essential if you’re really going to begin to reconcile.Saying you love someone is important, but showing you love someone is even more so.
4. Love tangibly.
Saying you love someone is important, but showing you love someone is even more so. Identify tangible ways to show your love. Not only does this communicate love more clearly than simple words, but it shows a willingness on your part to change. Additionally, the act of thinking about how to practically love your wife forces you to think about her, what she likes or doesn’t like, what makes her happy, what turns her on. It’s more than just the action itself; it’s how the action begins to change you.
If you’ve been drifting apart for years, prepare to be in this for the long haul. One day, one week, even one month of being attentive to how to close the distance in a relationship is just the beginning. It’s taken you years to get to this place, so you’re going to need to be committed to long-term change. From the beginning, commit to persevering until you experience a breakthrough in your relationship. You don’t become the kind of person who can run a marathon after a few weeks of jogging. Likewise, you don’t become the kind of person who can cultivate intimacy with your wife after a few weeks of change. Perseverance is key.
Sound off: What other tips do you have for closing the distance between you and your wife?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife and ask, “How can we improve the intimacy in our marriage?”