Most people long for more intimate connections in relationships. Being busy with work, children and being a passive observer of television, sports and other media are often used as excuses for not connecting or not staying connected.

Marriage is a prime example of a relationship needing more time and energy to connect emotionally and sexually. If there is no time to date or connect after a strenuous day, it is easy to feel neglected. If materialism and technology rule, there is little left for shared intimacy.

Successful relationships require romance, fun and affectionate attention to remain happy and rewarding. If we value texting, computers and television more than active relating through shared activities and conversations, we are not fully engaged in our marriages or other relationships.

If a relationship becomes “you get the garbage and I’ll pay the bills” there is little left for quality connecting. Instead, a relationship becomes a business of tasks and duties—hardly exciting. Some who read this blog will claim their lives are full of mundane tasks and they are bored, and they may not see that they can make different choices.

couple kissingI am a couples counselor and sex therapist, so I see all of this on a daily basis. People seek help because they do not see a way out of their stressful, uninteresting lives. Their lives have too many disconnects to feel balance and something to cherish and look forward to.

The common complaint is that a partner has little or no time or interest to create and maintain connections. It is hard to have a good sexual relationship if the couple is not connecting emotionally through dates and connecting conversations.

Spontaneity is fine, but to connect we also can benefit from planning for time and activities which foster more connection. If a videographer were to follow a couple for a week, the camera would not lie. Couples would view themselves and they would see that a typical day is pretty much the same over and over.

It boils down to what we value, and what we are willing to give up so we experience more connection. Many couples mindlessly do the same tasks and feel bored. They fail to question their priorities, or what they need to do to connect and laugh more.

It all starts with the way we hook up for quick and often not repeated sex while single. We make instant connections, followed by rapid disconnects. It is called hooking up, or a one night stand. If we have a connection and enjoy sex, why not view this as making a new friend, rather than a one-time experience? Some hook ups become more, but America is famous for being the disposable society, and this includes people.

In Norway it is common to view a new lover as a new friend. This means there is no disconnect, which is much healthier mentally and physically. People are not things to discard, but you would not know this from a lot of hook ups.

If we start with quick connects and disconnects, it is not surprising that this pattern would be continued in marriages later on. We learn dysfunctional ways to relate, and they we wonder why our lives are not balanced or connected. It is not difficult to see that we should reexamine what we value and do so we can be happier.

We do have choices. We can reevaluate our values and our choices. It may require a good couple’s counselor, but all of this can happen. I see it all the time. I see couples who come because they are not happy with their lives. Most of my counseling is short-term. As long as couples are committed to my treatment plan, real change usually occurs.