Do you sometimes feel like you have to practically beg your husband or wife for attention? That can be a lonely place. Healthy relationships come in many shapes and forms, but all are built on a foundation of connection. Common interests, shared values and goals, deep trust, mutual support—these are just some of the characteristics that spouses in fulfilling marriages can look forward to.
It’s no surprise, then, that a sense of disconnection in marriage can be incredibly painful for both husbands and wives.
Do you feel disconnected from your spouse? Do you feel like you are constantly vying for their attention? Do you worry about coming off as needy? Do you struggle to express what you need and want—then feel let down when those needs and wants aren’t fulfilled? If you answered yes to any of these questions continue reading to discover our tips to help you voice your feeling of neglect to your spouse.
Here are five things that can help you connect with your spouse without coming off as needy or clingy. Click on the tips in the list below to skip to that area of the page.
1. Avoid Assumptions—Be Explicitly Honest Instead
Avoiding assumptions is the most practical way to instantly make your life less painful:
Let go of the idea that your spouse (or anyone, for that matter) “should” know what you’re thinking or how you’re feeling. Often, they simply won’t—and that’s okay. Why? Because you can tell them!
Stop assuming your partner can read your mind or “should” know what you need in any given moment. If you want something—attention, a hug, a kind word, a helping hand—ask for it explicitly while being as direct and as calm as possible.
“I’m feeling vulnerable/sad/scared/lonely/frustrated/stressed/overwhelmed. I could really use ______ from you right now.”
This type of honesty helps build trust, which is a must for genuine connection. It also helps you avoid the unpleasant alternative of projecting your discomfort onto your spouse in the form of a cold shoulder, a snippy comment, or misdirected anger.
2. Be Engaged
As a couple, make a purposeful effort to be more present, mindful, and engaged with each other. This is about increasing the quality of time together rather than just the quantity of time (although quantity matters, too). A perfect example is putting the phones away when eating dinner, watching a movie, or doing some other activity together.
Listen to each other. Pay attention. Act as if your spouse deeply matters—sounds radical, doesn’t it? Follow through with what you say and be available for one another. To receive connection, you have to give connection. Allow yourselves to receive one another with open arms, even if you disagree about something. Truly surrendering to your partner creates an unbelievable bond between you forged with unwavering trust.
3. Create and Respect Boundaries
Maybe it’s not the best time to bring up an issue with your spouse when they’re in the middle of work, a favorite book, or a video game. Maybe you can take a deep breath and check in with them a little later.
Maybe your spouse needs a half hour when they first get home to unwind before hearing about your day.
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Maybe your spouse has interests outside the marriage—a hobby, a career, a social cause. Learn to see these interests not as a threat or competition, but as opportunities for your spouse to fill themselves up so they can offer even more of themselves to you and your marriage.
Honor the boundaries you and your spouse agree to. Give each other space to be individuals. Paradoxically, celebrating your own interests and pursuits can help you grow even closer.
4. Start Journaling
Sometimes, a person feels needy because their spouse truly isn’t doing their part to build a healthy connection—they might be “checked out,” stressed out, or otherwise disengaged from the marriage.
But it’s just as likely that a person feels needy because of factors within themselves that need to be addressed. This includes things like an anxious attachment style or underlying grief, shame, guilt, or fear associated with past traumas or previous relationships.
If you struggle with feelings of neediness and disconnection, journaling can help. Exploring your inner realm through writing can help you recognize and make sense of even your heaviest feelings—and can help you identify patterns of thought and behaviors that might not be best serving you.
Research also suggests that journaling can improve your mood, emotional health, and self-confidence—so, expect benefits from a regular journaling practice that will enhance and even benefit you individually in addition to helping improve your marriage!
Journaling also helps us be mindful of our thoughts and actions, in addition to the behavior of our husbands and wives. Here’s some journaling prompts that can help you explore issues related to neediness and connection:
Helpful Journaling Prompts
- What would taking good care of myself look like today?
- What do healthy boundaries look like in my marriage?
- What is my discomfort trying to tell me right now?
- When do I feel the most loved, heard, and seen?
- How have I communicated and spent time with my spouse lately?
- What kind of spouse do I want to be today?
5. Work With a Marriage Counselor
A marriage counselor can help you and your spouse connect more deeply by creating a safe environment in which to explore and discuss your needs. After all, it’s not always easy to articulate what you’re feeling or even pinpoint what’s “off” in your marriage. Trained counselors can offer valuable insights that will help you get clear about what’s going on in your relationship—as well as your own hearts and minds—and rediscover that sense of connection you’ve missed.
If you’re ready to explore couples counseling, contact The Marriage Restoration Project today to schedule an appointment or book a free 30 minute consultation call with us!