Ep 05: How To Make Connection Super Easy

Sometimes Cris or I will say something and the other just.doesn’t.respond. We’re in our own little world and at times it doesn’t even register that our loved one said something!

This recently happened when Cris said something about our dog. He spoke and I … said nothing. I didn’t look up, I didn’t say, “hold on”, and I didn’t even acknowledge his presence.

At that moment, we were disconnected.

Constant disconnection can affect long term relationships in many ways. We can start to feel bored, ignored, and frustrated just by being in the same room as our partner.

And if these little (and often big) disconnections continue, it can lead to the end of a relationship.

Because seriously, what fun is a marriage without connection? We can do better! Listen to this episode to learn three shifts you can make today to bring connection back to your marriage. 

If you want help implementing the tools I teach, I would be honored to be your life coach. Working with a coach helps you to create change quicker, easier, and with more fun along the way! Are you ready to create a more Joyful Love in your own Life and Marriage? Then  click here to find out more

What You’ll Learn From This Episode

  1. Why we are so disconnected throughout the day.
  2. How to make deposits in your relationship so that withdrawals aren’t a big deal!
  3. What gratitude does to keep you in the present moment
  4. How to hold space for a stressed-out partner

Mentioned On The Show:

The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/

If you’d like to ask questions or tell me what you think, send an email to podcast@rachaelcunningham.com

Go here to watch a free class and receive my weekly newsletters. https://www.rachaelcunningham.com/

Podcast Transcript:

Hi! This is Rachael Cunningham and you are listening to Joyful Love, Episode 5

Hey friends! You know I really do see you as my friends. I know we may have never met in person but I’m sure if I ever get to …. I’m gonna love you so. dang. much!

So let’s just assume one thing. We’re friends!

And if you ever feel like reaching out to me … hey, I’m just an email away! So Connect with me there at podcast@rachaelcunningham.com

And speaking of connection … that’s what we’re talking about today ….

If there’s one thing we don’t want … it’s a disconnected marriage.

But even with the most connected couples who naturally communicate well and find their groove in the beginning of their relationships … even those couples can hit rough spots in life where it’s not so easy any more.

And over time, a pattern develops of criticism, not really listening, and getting distracted when we’re with our partners.

And when disconnection becomes the norm … you know what happens? We fight – we fight over nothing!

Have you ever had a huge blow up with your partner and the next morning you don’t even know what you argued about?

And you’re talking to your friend trying to explain what happened and you’re like, “I don’t even know what started it?”

I’ll tell you what started it – the feeling of disconnection.

That feeling that you or your partner did not feel heard, accepted, or appreciated.

It may have been one little moment of disconnect – but it tapped into a deep feeling in one of you that their partner doesn’t care – that they’re alone – or that they’re not accepted as they are.

This usually happens in small ways – like one of you feels judged by the way they loaded the dishwasher.

– One feels ignored because the love of their life won’t look up from their phone.
– Or you’re so exhausted and tired by the time you hang out at night that you just want to be alone…. So maybe you purposefully check out by watching tv again… or ignoring your partner in some way.

So in a world where disconnection has become the norm … what do we do? How do we hold onto … or even rebuild that deep connection with our main squeeze again?

I did a training with The Gottman Institute … which is a research based approach to relationships …

And  I love the way they talk about our relationships as an emotional bank account.

Just like a regular bank account … you need to make deposits.

There will be times you NEED to take money out … but as long as you make more deposits than withdrawals … you’re good!  And if you make a LOT more deposits than withdrawals – you have NOTHING to worry about!

The same is true with our marriages … the more positive deposits we make … the more our relationship will still thrive when we need to make withdrawals.

I also like the garden analogy –

If you tend and water your garden regularly – it will flourish – and you can depend on it to give you food or beautiful flowers!  

Tend to it … take care of it … and it will thrive.

So how do we do this with our emotions in a relationship?  

How do we water our relationship with care, tenderness, acceptance and love SOOOOO regularly that on those days when something comes up that’s hard …. And you just don’t have much to give … or those days when you’re just having a bad day and you’re extra grumpy … or even on the weeks that we have EXTRA work to do …  it wont shatter your relationship because you KNOW it’s just a hard day…. Or just a busy week.  These are circumstances … that you can work through.

They don’t mean your love is dying or suffering!

So … How can You KNOW your relationship is strong enough to handle those ups and downs in life?

And moreover … How can we make deposits in our  marriage in a way that feels incredible?  And not like work? Because we don’t want marriage to feel like work…. That’s not fun!

Let’s start with the realization that most deposits are small, everyday gestures of kindness. Most deposits are really simple.

Even if your partner says, “Hey! Look at how beautiful it is outside today!”  – a simple response like, “It is nice!” is a magical deposit!

Why – because it shows you were listening – it shows they are not invisible to you…

We could even add to it by saying, “It is nice! Let’s take a walk to the mailbox!”

Right? That may sound lame at first … but those small moments of connection … of sending the message that I love you enough to connect with you for 2 minutes … Those small moments are huge!

We all get involved in our own heads sometimes where we just don’t even notice or react to our partners! We don’t even respond to them when they make simple comments throughout the day.

Cris and I are no exception.

Just this morning, we were sitting outside on our porch doing a bit of work on our laptops. He pointed out how cute our fat dog was, running in the yard.

I didn’t react. I said nothing in return!

I looked up briefly, but kept typing away on my computer. I was involved in something and I did not wanna be bothered..

And I didn’t even think about it until right now as I’m writing this!!

So we all do it … even those of us who pay attention to this sort of thing on a regular basis!

So Perfection isn’t the goal here …. Improvement is.

When we bring awareness to these small interactions and when we respond to them… we’re making deposits into our emotional bank account … or we’re tending to our relationship garden.

So Notice when you’re so used to your partner that maybe what they say isn’t even registering to you! Just like I did earlier with Cris ….

And then it’s simple ….When we bring awareness to what our brains are doing and thinking … we can choose a different way.

We can say, “Okay brain … I notice you think youre too busy to respond … and I’m calling bullshit on yoU!

Brain … we DO have 10 seconds to respond! We do have 60 seconds for a long hug in the kitchen!  We do have a few minutes to connect with that person who we’ve chosen to spend the rest of our lives with!”


In that moment when Cris pointed out our cute dog bouncing through the yard… a simple “awww, he is cute.”  would suffice.

I often tell my clients that every moment is an opportunity for connection …

We want to build up our connection so much in simple, positive ways – so that we enjoy each other again and enjoy life together again!

I WANT my husband to tell me when he thinks the dog is cute!  I want to enjoy the everyday normalcies with him!

But if I’m not careful – if I allow ignoring him and not responding to him to become a habit … he’ll stop sharing with me…. And we’ll become 2 people who stop communicating and become extremely disconnected.

And our disagreements will feel so much more hurtful because we’re not connecting on a daily basis.

Now … whether it’s yourself that tends to ignore your partner … or your partner who ignores you … it’s important to not PILE on the criticism for either of you.

Most of us don’t move towards disconnection and complacency in a relationship because of malice.  But we do so out of mindlessness.

We simply stop paying attention.  So let’s start with dropping criticism for yourself and your partner.

Assume the best of each other right now.

Just bring awareness to where you can be more mindful in your interactions with your partner.

Maybe keep your phone in another room just during dinner so you can be fully present.

You can ask your partner to do the same. Let them know, “Hey, I’ve noticed myself getting distracted easily and I’d like to try something new … I’m gonna keep my phone in the other room during dinner! And you’re welcome to join me in this challenge!  I think it’d be great for our connection!”

If they join you – great! If not, remember that you are taking charge of your own emotional adulthood – and that’s your TOP priority.

I started leaving my phone in my glove compartment when we go on walks because I was in the habit of checking it too much.

This has helped in my relationship with my son too….
I wanted to take selfies of me him on walks … because y’all I love that kid so much and I want to document every moment with him  (as moms do!) … But I realized -that  even though I want all the selfies because in a few years he won’t be walking with me anymore …everytime i pulled out my phone – felt like disconnection to him.

So I brought awareness to it.

Now…  I still grab selfies with us together on occasion because I do want some memories… but it’s not too often anymore.

Because actually living in the moment with him right now … is way more important than having a photo to look back on in 10 years.

These simple steps can do so much to increase your connection…. No matter who it’s with.

So that’s step 1:
 Everytime you turn towards your partner, or respond to them even in the smallest ways, and choose to be present with them … is another deposit in your emotional bank account.

The second deposit you can make is gratitude.

There are so many opportunities for thanking your partner and showing appreciation for them. From the hard work they do for your family, to choosing to live this one life with you, to wiping off the counters at night. These are opportunities for gratitude.

Don’t wait for them to start thanking you. Waiting for someone else to show up how you think they should before YOU show up in life how you want to is emotional immaturity and we’re not doing that anymore.  

I remember when my husband started doing the dinner dishes on a regular basis … my ego said, “I don’t need to thank him … it’s his house too!”

But then I realized that doesn’t matter. The TRUTH is … I DO appreciate his efforts – all of them – from working hard for our family, to doing the dishes – from taking out the trash – to how he connects with so much humor with our kids – to his ability to pause and notice our cute dog in the middle of work!

And I WANT him to know that I appreciate it. I don’t wanna withhold gratitude because of the thought “well he should be doing that anyway”.  

That’s not a fun relationship.

And I’m here for a fun relationship!!

I don’t want to be the person who listens to her ego instead of her heart. So i’m gonna thank him … and i’m gonna start with the thought that there can never be TOO much gratitude.  

So i welcome you to FEEL that gratitude for your partner too… and every time you do , tell them!  

The third and very important way to connect is to allow each other to talk about what stressed you today. …. And … just listen.

When your partner vents about his or her stressful day … Don’t feel like you have to fix it for them.

Have you ever been in a conversation where you were telling a story about something you experienced as difficult and you really just wanted to vent.  But the person you were telling just wanted to fix the situation for you? They might say, “well you could have done this.. Or you should do or say this next time…”

Yup me too.  AND i have to admit … I’ve also been the one trying to do the fixing….. I’ve been the one trying to fix a lot!!

And it just doesn’t end well.

It doesn’t help the partner that’s stressed reduce their stress. It can actually INCREASE stress in that moment.

The point and purpose of venting … IS to destress.

So when your honey needs to vent … Just listen, and empathize.  

Be that person in your partners life who they can vent to when needed.  You can do this with 3 simple destressing guidelines:

Alright … the first guideline to having a destressing conversation is that

All emotions are welcome in this conversation …. Frustration, bitterness, sadness, resentment. When our partner is venting – it’s important to not be put off by their feelings.

Feelings are not scary. They are actually healthy, friends.

Feelings are simply vibrations in our bodies that come from our thoughts.

And when we view them as vibrations … they lose their power.

So instead of rushing to help them feel better,  So that inturn YOU can feel better, right? — Instead … remember that the best way for them to start FEELING better… is to actually PROCESS their emotions.  SO give them space to do so.

Why is this so hard though?  It’s hard because we’re afraid we’ll be affected by their negative emotions too … especially if you’re naturally a very empathetic person.

I get it! I spent the first 40 years of my life trying to fix my loved ones too so that I could feel better! If they felt better — I’d feel better!

So what do we empathetic, fixers do???

So one great way for you to not be sucked into a negative emotional downpour with them … is by simply reminding yourself that your partner gets to feel their  feelings … they have the right to feel it all … why? Because they are a human, with human emotions. Just like you … and that means, sometimes we feel negative emotions.

And those negative emotions are just as beautiful and just as important … and just as HUMAN as the positive ones.  

I’m gonna say that again for those who may be distracted right now!  The negative emotions are just as beautiful and just as important … and just as HUMAN as the positive ones.  

So there is no need to stuff our feelings here – we embrace them. And we process them … so the ones that are NOT serving us can move through us and process their way out.

But you can’t rush this. You have to process it.  And so does your partner.

So … simply allow them to feel what they need to while they vent and destress about their day, their boss, their mother or whatever!

The second guideline for destressing is to  Show compassion by expressing understanding for these emotions. A simple sentence like, “I understand why your upset … I’d be frustrated too.”  shows that you’re with them and you are empathetic.

Alright! The third guideline for a destressing conversation is this….

Don’t offer solutions to your partners’ problem unless they ask you. Many times they want you there for emotional support … not advice.   So hold off on the advice unless they specifically ask you, “what do you think about this? Or how do you think I should handle this?”

Or if you suspect they want your opinion but aren’t asking for it …simply ask them, “do you just need to vent right now? Or do you want my help navigating this?”

Let them tell you what they need before you dive into fix it mode!

Otherwise … trust them to figure this situation out on their own. So many times we DO figure struggles out on our own …

IF … we’re given ample time to process our thoughts and feelings with someone else … or even alone for some of us who are more internal processors.

Cris does more of his destressing verbally … I do most of mine in my journal.  Neither way is better … it’s just important that you process those feelings in some way that’s best for you.

Venting and destressing IS part of how we learn and grow.  Trust that this is exactly what your partner needs.

And lastly… the fourth thing you can do to make connection easy and that’s also a huge emotional bank account deposit … is to be affectionate.

Many times that comes with physical touch … physical touch is what makes most marriages different than just a friendship.

A back rub, a kiss, a good head scratch, snuggles, a long hug – these things go a LOONNG Way!!

Affection lets you know, without words that you are connected.  That you’re in this together!

It lets your partner know, hey…. I still dig you quite a bit!  

I can hold space for your emotions.

For your stressful day….

And I am in charge of my own emotions. I can empathize with YOU … And I can feel all the love and gratitude for you at the same time.

So many times when our partner is sad or stressed, or frustrated about something – we withdraw our affection.

Why do we do this?

Because we have been taught by society, our parents, and our teachers from an early age that negative emotions are bad.

So we stuff our own.

We buffer them away with food or alcohol.

And we beat ourselves up for having them.

And when our partners are struggling … we think we have to FIX them.  We think it’s our job to make them happy again…

Because we’re so uncomfortable handling our own emotions … so why would we be comfortable handling someone elses too?

But friends, what if we don’t have to handle them?

What if we can let go … and simply let our partners (and ourselves) have the feelings we need to?

Simply because we’re humans. And we have the right to the FULL human experience –

When you can process your own emotions and allow your partner to process theirs …. That … is massive connection!

And it’s a HUGE deposit in your emotional bank account!

Whether you’re making a deposit with mindfulness in your everyday life, or being present with your partner and bringing gratitude to your relationship …. OR whether you or your partner needs to vent and process a stressful moment or time in life …. ALL of these situations – are an opportunity for connection.

Every single moment … is an opportunity to connect with your partner.

And you can bring ease to it by reminding yourself that feelings are allowed … and that you don’t have to be perfect at this…

But the more you can bring awareness to opportunities to connect … even the small ones … the more you’re gonna handle those mishaps with grace and humor …

On that note … I’m gonna go respond to my husbands comment about how cute the dog was now!

I’d love to hear from you – so feel free to connect with me this week! Tell me what you think so far and let me know if you have topics you’d like me to talk about.  

You can send me an email at

And if you have a minute and like what you’re hearing, help me out by rating me on itunes and leave me feedback there. I know it’s gonna take a few minutes out of your day … SO THANK YOU in advance! I’m so grateful for you!

Enjoy the Show?