People often ask Tami and I how they can know when their marriage is in trouble. Like most questions of this nature, there is the short answer and the long one. We will address the short answer first, then move on to the longer answer for those who have time to read the entire post (about 6 minutes).

Question: What is the NUMBER ONE sign that your marriage is in trouble?

Answer: Lack of emotional connection.

Emotional Connection Defined

This type of connection between two people is deep and meaningful. Emotional connection is not about sports scores or a work-related project done together because these are merely exchanges of information. Rather it is about the feelings and emotions associated with these things and more. In other words, sharing your love for sports with a co-worker should not usually elicit deep feelings of profound connectedness. But, when you share a love for sports with your spouse to the point where your feelings and emotions are connected as well, there is an emotional connection. Having this kind of connection with your spouse is absolutely necessary, whereas having this kind of connection with a co-worker is a red flag.

There are lots of levels of connection between a husband and a wife, but let me break this down into just three main categories to give you the bigger picture. Think about what is exchanged during your conversations together. You are likely sharing three general kinds of things: facts, opinions and ideas, or feelings and emotions. When your are talking about the bathroom remodel that is needed or what happened while you were at work, you are sharing facts. If you are sharing your opinions, insights and ideas about the bathroom remodel, you have just gone a level deeper in your connection. This is because you need to feel a bit safer with someone to share your opinions and ideas. Lastly, if you talk about your passion for the bathroom remodel and the deep satisfaction it will bring you, then you are sharing feelings and emotions. Likewise, if you are sharing with your spouse your intense frustration or disappointment about a work-related issue, then you are sharing feelings and emotions. You need to feel extremely safe with a person before you are willing to share at this level and risk being so vulnerable.

"The average husband and wife have only 37 minutes of meaningful communication per week at the deepest level, most of us could do better here."

What should you do when you discover a lack of emotional connection?

This could be a fairly simple problem with a fairly simple solution. If your spouse seems distant and you don't know why, you had better find out! It could be as simple as your spouse having a bad day. If this is the case, listen intently to hear and understand what your spouse is saying. Empathize with them by saying, "That must be awful, I'm so sorry you had to experience that." Remember that emotional connection is the goal, so try to understand their feelings and emotions. Do NOT jump in to fix their problem, rather ask if there is anything you can do. Then, assure them that you will be there for them should they need anything.

On the other hand, this could be a very deep and complex issue that has been years in the making. If this is the case, you had better pay attention because somehow you have been missing all of the red flags and warning signs up to this point. If you discover that there has been little emotional connection between the two of you for a year of more, you had better get things back on track. This could mean making some distraction-free time to apologize for being so disconnected and sincerely asking what your spouse needs so that you can learn to do better. This could also mean it's time to seek the help of a gifted marriage counselor to help you both discover poor relational patterns so that you can get back on track.

Whatever the case, it is always easier to make several small adjustments in your marriage than it is to make a very large one. Investing the time and energy needed for meaningful emotional connection will always pay off in the form of two deeply satisfied and happy spouses. It takes work and being intentional—and it's worth it every time.

Here is one final way to put all of this into perspective. Think about how many times you have heard someone say, "Well, I love them, I'm just not in love with them." This shows a lack of emotional connection. Let me translate this statement for you with the language we've been using: "Well, I have a duty to love them and I appreciate and respect certain things about them, but we are not emotionally connected." You see, it's the same thing! Healthy emotional connection in a marriage means, "I'm in love with you!"

If you already know what you need to do in your marriage, go do it. If you are not sure where to start getting your emotional connection back on track, please ask us in the comments below. We always respond.

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By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at Copyright © 2016