Remember how you could stay up all night talking with your partner when you were first falling in love?
It was heavenly. You felt so close. You could tell him or her just about anything.
No secret was off-limits. The more you shared and conversed with your beloved, the closer you felt.
When you weren’t talking, you were still communicating. You’d send gazillions of flirty texts or emails. Or you’d leave love notes in their car.
You loved to talk with your beloved because you wanted to learn everything about them. What was their childhood like? What were their biggest fears? What gave them joy? Who was their role model?
And when you shared your innermost feelings with them, they were riveted. They were deeply curious about you, too. They remembered everything you told them and they seemed to understand you like no one else in the world. They understood you better sometimes than you understood yourself.
But now? Things have changed.
You don’t talk with each other the way you used to. Your conversations are rote—mostly about social plans, or to-do lists, or complaints about the kids, the bills, or work.
Your partner isn’t curious about you anymore. Heart-to-heart conversations have become a thing of the past, and you’re not as forthcoming as you once were about your secret dreams and fears, either.
And if you’re going to stay up late, you’d rather watch another episode of your favorite show than spend another hour talking about the same, boring stuff.
It’s as if your relationship has gone stale, and the blush of love has faded.
What happened? Good question.
Science has the answer.
You miss connecting with your partner. But despite what you may think, what you’re experiencing isn’t abnormal.
The fact that you aren’t sharing with the frequency and intimacy you once did doesn’t mean your marriage is doomed or that you’ve fallen out of love with each other.
In fact, science has a perfectly good explanation for why you’re not having those deep, into-the-wee-hours kind of heart-to-heart talks the way you used to when you were first falling in love.
What science has revealed is that when you’re in a state of infatuation, or falling in love, you are physically different.
In those early stages of relationship, your brain is drenched in all kinds of feel-good hormones and chemicals, such as dopamine. This altered brain chemistry affects your behavior.
Infatuation can turn a non-talker into a chatterbox and non-touchers into touchy-feely lovebirds.
Infatuation makes you want to prioritize your new relationship. You’ll skip work to be with each other. You’ll spend more time with your new lover than you will with your friends and family. You’ll forego chores and errands to have one more minute with your lover.
You’ll touch and kiss every chance you get.
But as time goes by, and your relationship settles into a more comfortable companionship, those brain chemicals return to a default state.
What does that mean?
That means that you and your partner go back to being how you were before you met— perhaps more reserved, both with your words and with physical affection.
That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, and that you’ll never feel that sense of aliveness and joy you once did when you were able to connect and share and converse like soul mates versus like roommates.
Because if you want to get back some of that magic of early love, you’ll have to do what all happy couples do…
You’ll have to learn how to connect with each other.
One way to do that is to look back at what you were like when you were first together, and use some of the lessons of infatuation to make your marriage more resilient and loving now.
The infatuation stage makes you more talkative and physically affectionate with your partner.
There’s something else that happens in the infatuation stage of relationship that helps you become emotionally attached to your partner:
The love cocktail in your brain puts you in a positive state.
This positive state makes you believe that your lover can do no wrong. You ignore their less-than-great attributes, and you focus on all their wonderful qualities.
You don’t care so much that they’re a little bit late every time they meet you for a date.
You don’t mind that they tend to be a bit sarcastic or that their jokes fall flat.
You ignore the fact that their house is messy, or that they’re not very ambitious.
None of that matters as much as the fact that they’re kind, generous, and wise. Or as much as the fact that they know exactly what to do or say to cheer you up when you’re down.
Nothing matters as much as how they make you feel when they gaze longingly into your eyes and tell you how much they adore you.
In the early days of love, you’re so convinced of all your lover’s positive traits that if a friend tells you that this person is really no good for you, you may even turn your back on that friend for a period of time.
Nature has a way of helping us get together, by lowering our defenses, compelling us to share, and making us focus on the positives.
It’s a good prototype of how good a relationship could be, not just for a few months, but for the rest of your marriage.
While you can’t get back all those feel-good brain chemicals on demand, there is one thing you can do today to mimic that state of infatuation to reconnect with your partner:
Express gratitude for everything they do that makes your life easier and happier, no matter how insignificant it seems.
Revel in the way they demonstrate their loyalty and devotion to you. Notice how kind and compassionate they are to others. Be tickled by their quirky charm, or impressed by their sharp mind.
When you shift from seeing all the ways in which your relationship is deficient to all the ways your partner makes your life better, you mimic the dynamic of infatuation, which will help you feel closer and more loving toward your partner.
Your partner won’t be able to help notice your shift in vibe. Your positivity will affect their attitude, too. They’ll lower some of the defenses that have been keeping them so reserved and withdrawn. Don’t be surprised if they suddenly start to share more with you, and want to snuggle up closer on the couch at the end of the day.
Pretty soon, you’ll be having those heart-to-heart talks the way you used to, again.
By focusing on the positive, you’ll be taking an empowered step toward the kind of marriage that feeds your soul and brightens your life, every single day.
Here’s something I have discovered after 40 years of working with couples and from all the research I’ve done on the science of relationship dynamics:
It’s easier to add positives than it is to take away negatives.
Knowing this, if you’re complaining to yourself or to your partner that they “don’t talk to you anymore,” that doesn’t necessarily help alleviate the problem, because it puts your partner on the defensive.
They might say, “I don’t know what you want from me,” which then puts YOU on the defensive.
Instead, add a positive behavior, request, or sentiment in order to shift the dynamic.
You might say, “I loved it when you called me on your lunch hour to share how your day was going. It makes me feel more connected to you.”
That makes a positive impression and opens your partner up.
This is just one example of the many small and simple positive tips, lessons, and exercises I can teach you when you subscribe to the Flourish free relationship advice newsletter.
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May you have an extraordinary day,