Should a husband feel guilty that he travels 5 days a week for work? Should a wife beat herself up for being exhausted after a long day at work when she wants to sleep instead of spending time with her husband? Will this destroy their connection? There are many relationships that cannot weather the trials of distance, but there are those that flourish despite it. What is their secret?
Gottman’s research shows that couples who are able to keep their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive ones are able to overcome the hardships of distance. The real danger of distance in a marriage is not the physical distance but the emotional distance between two people. Bridging this emotional gap is the secret to an enduring and fulfilling relationship.
Emotionally intelligent couples have a strong friendship that underlies their relationship. Each partner spends time getting to know the other intimately. They share their fears, hopes, and dreams with each other. These couples stay connected to each other in their mundane everyday lives.
This connection helps them withstand the distance created by work pressure, time constraints and parenthood. For example, if the husband knows that his wife would love him to make her a cup of tea on a Saturday and the wife knows that the husband loves to play cricket on a Sunday and is mindful of the partner’s desire, then it creates a connection. It is not the quantity of time spent but the quality of time spent and mindfulness that deepens the connection.
Over time individuals in a marriage may grow separate interests and lifestyles. This divergence may create distance in the marriage as most disagreements stem from differences in values and lifestyle. Individuals who can find a way of accepting these fundamental differences will feel closer. Many of us interpret similarity as a connection, but the key to connection is the understanding that it can exist even with the acceptance of difference.
Space in a marriage: How much is too much?
A little bit of distance can do great things for a sense of desire in marriage. Go back to a time when your partner traveled for work and you just couldn’t wait to see them. Or that time when your partner was telling a story, and you were drawn to them? That moment when you were captivated by the person’s aura.
What fuels this sense of desire? A bit of Distance.
According to Esther Perel, the contradiction of modern marriage is that we want predictability but also adventure, security but also a mystery. And all from the same person. However, while love flourishes with being engaged and knowing every detail about your partner, desire flourishes with some space and distance.
Research shows that some space in relationships fuel the desire for each other as fantasy and imagination begin to operate in the space to create a longing and wanting for the partner.
While physical distance is trying on the relationship, couples must be mindful that they put in effort into maintaining an emotional connection and friendship. This makes it easier to overcome difference and conflict, which can so easily overwhelm a relationship.
About Ashika Mehta
Ashika Mehta practices psychotherapy in Mumbai. She has completed her Master’s in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University along with a BA in Psychology from Vassar College. Ashika also facilitates training programs for corporates and has conducted training for YPO and ASCENT.
Ashika has done intensive post-trauma work with those affected by the 26/11 terror attacks at the Breach Candy Hospital and facilitates therapy groups for those with chronic illness.
Ashika is passionate about working towards the prevention of the sex trafficking of at-risk women and children. As a Board Member of Apne Aap Women’s Collective, Ashika helps rehabilitate women in prostitution and creates educational and job opportunities for the children of sex workers.