How to ask for emotional connection

Emotional connection is the feel-good-feelings between you that keep your marriage alive so your relationship can thrive.

But what do you say when your partner says NO to your requests for emotional connection?

You don’t see eye to eye.

You want more emotional connection.

Let’s assume you’ve been wanting to ask your spouse for something…the kind of something that you know will keep the two of you bonded. That luscious feeling of being in love is what you yearn for and it’s been ages since the two of you just sat eye to eye and talked.

You’re not the most assertive person, especially when you can feel a fight brewing.

You know the topic could create a fight  because you’ve been there before… And the fight was ugly!  It’s taken you a good few weeks to muster up the guts and the energy to approach this topic again.

In your mind, you’ve carefully selected words and phrases. You’ve even rehearsed your request for emotional connection endlessly. You’ve role played the perfect scenario in your brain at least 100 times.

You wait for the perfect moment… just like you see it in your mind’s eye- You talk about wanting, needing emotional connection and they respond with a blissful hug.

Even more, you say to yourself, you want a vacation and the idea of a dirty weekend thrills you.

Your marriage could do with an emotional connection boost.

Beyond the kids, the chores, life stuff and tasks of everyday things, you’ve hardly connected at a deep emotional level in the last few years. You want to talk, bond and connect. You know you’re lonely.

You ache for emotional connection. You wish your partner would just give you any attention… the way it was when you were dating.

So why don’t you open your mouth and ask?

When fear blocks action.

It’s because you know deep inside they’ll say No.

No Hurts.

It paralyses you and drives you away. The seductive pull of comfort yanks at you.

After all, you’ll have to acknowledge the difference between you and your partner. Those ugly fights remind you of the differences. The words hurt, the yelling and screaming left you lonely.

You know they  don’t want what you want.

You’re different- do you accept it?

Your idea of a romantic bonding holiday in the Caribbean interspersed with lustful moments  is not their idea of fun.

You’ve watched the way they devoured popcorn and wine  as they binged on movies…until their eyes glazed over and the body surrendered to blissful sleep. To them that was  a fun night. the two of you seperate and apart without emotional connection.

And it’s your idea of hell!

Without emotional connection, life to you is hell.

They blitz on movies and you busy yourself in the background with only your thoughts of loneliness to keep you company.

“It’s time for a change” your brain Yells.

Do it .. Do it.. all you have to do is have a fight… and WIN.

But you don’t!

The fear of rejection or fighting sets in.

You think of opening your mouth and your body flinches as if moving in direct response to your thoughts to pick up the unread book or gather the papers on your desk .

Keeping busy is the response to fear.

The trick is to feel the fear and move your body towards what you want.

Go ahead, position yourself closer and adopt the position of discussion.

Rather than retreating in your shell or screaming abuse at how inconsiderate they are,

Here’s 5 steps to follow after a No response to emotional connection.

Step #1: Check your attitude

Be determined not to escalate and fight.

Recite the mantra “ I seek to understand”  as you proceed knowing that a discussion is possible and the only way to reach your partner’s heart.

Calling them names and blaming them for being inconsiderate and blind towards your needs won’t help. Neither will hurling abuse or slamming doors.

An attitude of working together will allow you to be curious about their response and go deeper.

You need to uncover what’s behind the No in a calm way.

Step #2: Breathe

The key is to manage your state and be calm.

The frowned expression, triggering tone and folded arms will surely be read as anger.

So breathe deeply to connect with yourself and come from a state of calm.

Take 3 long and slow breaths and make sure the breath out is longer than the breath in.

When your body feels calm, your brain can serve you by giving you a way forward. 

Step #3: Make it about you

So you’ve changed your attitude and you’re now calm. Now what?

Make your request for emotional connection and make it about you.

There’s no point telling them how they should think and feel and what they should do – because no one likes to be told! It’s sure to lead to a fight. Feel free to talk about your experiences and desires-

  1. what you want,
  2. what you feel
  3. what you wish for.

Step #4: If they say No – express your feeling.

Despite your best effort to work together. They said NO.

What you do at this point is express your feeling. The feeling might be sadness or disappointment or annoyance or maybe anger. It is your feeling, and no one can make you wrong for it, so go ahead and express it. “I feel sad that you can’t make the time for me.”

If they said “no” to your request, perhaps they have another method or idea  to contribute. Remember, they do have the right to say “no.” It may not be anything to do with you. It might just be their own circumstances or whatever is happening for them.

After they’ve said “no,” go ahead and express your feeling and your disappointment….

Step #5: Ask a question

Ask them a question about how you can get what you want.

  • How can we create excitement in our marriage?
  • What is your idea of emotional connection between us?
  • Do you long for emotional intimacy?
  • How can we make it possible for us to have a free a weekend and get away?
  • What is it that we could do to enable us to spend more time together?”

Now, because you’re using the word “we,” you’ve joined with your partner in solving the problem. You’re asking them to lend a hand in solving this problem of a lonely marriage that lacks emotional connection.

How do we do it TOGETHER is the intent and the attitude that you come with.

Of course, they may not have anything useful to say to you. But once again, the growth experience is from you being assertive and expressing what you want and need and wish and desire. That’s where the change happens- inside of you.

If they give you an opinion about how you can create more emotional connection, then you’re a lucky person. Go ahead and enjoy the  connection their way.

When nothing works.

Then simply express gratitude at the fact that they’ve given you their time in the conversation.

you’ll need another strategy to build a better bond and greater emotional connection so your relationship can thrive.

“Thanks for letting me know that you have no time. Thanks for your honesty.” These are  expressions of gratitude. You haven’t made them wrong, you haven’t blamed them. You’ve acknowledged what you’ve heard, and it’s simply that.

Repeated No’s in your relationship may be a sign that something is wrong.

A relationship is a two way street and this may signal that your communication isn’t as it should be.

I can offer you help to build the loving relationship you want.



Let's build your better relationship.

Iman Iskander is a Couples and marriage Counsellor with a relationship therapy  practice in Sydney. She is passionate about helping couples improve their love and lives through practical, science  based  strategies that work.  She specialises in repairing a couple’s  interaction, building lasting mindful relationships and she holds engaging skill building workshops in Sydney CBD.

Iman believes that you can thrive and with each person thriving, we as a community can thrive. We are the same in our difference.

Let's build your better relationship.

Reach out and contact me now for a free 15 minute chat to see how I can help.

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