We not only crave—but absolutely need—secure attachments with others from the time we are born and throughout our lifespan.
Hopefully, our parents were able to adequately fulfill their role as our first healthy attachment figures. Deep down, we need to know that we are loved, accepted, heard and that our needs will be met.
As we grow up, we begin attaching to others beyond our family. Just as with our parents, in our closest relationships, we want to know that our partners will be there for us when we need them. We yearn for the stability and security of trusting relationships.
But as many have experienced, even with God in your marriage, maintaining close attachment can be a struggle after the first few years. The novelty and excitement of falling in love naturally fade, and we start to see each other’s faults. Disagreements and misinterpretations are common. Unhealthy communication patterns might develop that interfere with our level of attachment.
This is why it’s vital to purposefully create attachment moments in our relationships. We can be proactive about keeping this attachment close and active.
How? Consider five practical steps.
1. Create Small Daily Rituals
Little things can mean the most. Give each other a deep hug every single morning before leaving the house. When you return in the evening, or before bedtime, take the time to re-engage. Tell each other the highs and lows of your day. Pray together, and for each other. Text each other at midday just to let your partner know you love them.
2. Turn Off Distractions
Staying close can be hard if you’re constantly distracted by text messages, television shows, or similar digital attractions. Learn to turn off notifications and put your devices in a place where they won’t be seen or easily reached. You don’t want an inconveniently timed notification to wreck meaningful time together. Likewise, your spouse wants to know that your attention is on them, not your device.
3. Try Something New (And Fun) Together
Research has shown that doing something new as a couple offers a chance to bond anew. Our minds thrive with novelty and the chance to enjoy activities outside the normal routine. When you do this together, you create fun, pleasant memories. Whether those are spiritual activities or otherwise, they give you the opportunity to find new connections with each other.
4. Hold Each Other Close
Deep emotional attachments, especially in marriage, thrive on physical contact. God created us this way.
When humans snuggle, hug, or even just lean against each other on the sofa, our bodies release oxytocin. This is also known as the “cuddle hormone.” And it plays an important role when we’re infants in helping us bond with our parents.
This hormone’s importance remains high in our adult relationships as well. It works in our brains to signal that the other person is safe and can be trusted. Oxytocin tells us that we can let our guard down and be truly intimate.
5. Be Empathetic
The stresses and demands of our lives can easily make us tired and irritable. This world constantly bombards us with things that create tension and pitch us against each other. Being empathetic lets attachment moments occur even when you’re under pressure.
So, remember to extend grace and empathy to your partner. Instead of automatically being offended when you think they say something hurtful, pause and evaluate. Perhaps you’ve misinterpreted. Maybe they’re also tired and cranky. Rather than fire back in anger, maybe a gentle word of acknowledgment will diffuse a potential argument. They may be seeking your assurances without even realizing it.
Your attachment moments don’t have to take up a lot of time. It can be difficult to integrate even small steps such as these into your busy day. But it’s vital!
Think of these habits as small investments that will pay big dividends over time. Be intentional and purposeful about maintaining your attachment with your spouse. As you do so, you’ll build a sturdy, strong foundation to help both of you when you go through life’s struggles.
The outside perspective of a counselor can also be invaluable when it comes to restoring your attachment with each other. If you would like to know more about my therapeutic approach, or if I can be of help in your relationship, please contact me at 828.513.6491.
For more information about marriage or couples counseling, click here.
About the Author
Julia Nelson, LPCA, LMFTA is a psychotherapist and owns a private practice in Henderson County, (Flat Rock) NC and Rutherford County, (Forest City) NC. In general, she specializes in couples counseling, anxiety and depression counseling, premarital counseling, and parenting classes. She is also a Certified Clinical Military Counselor. To find out more about Julia click here: Nelson Christian Counseling.
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