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7 Steps To Reconnect With Your Spouse

Updated: Apr 30

From my perspective and experience as a clinical psychologist, social club leader, friend and someone's "other half", in this article I outline my 7 best tips for reconnecting with your spouse in midlife, including:


1) Solid communication

2) Joint core values

3) Exciting goals

4) Romantic gestures

5) Reminiscing

6) Daily rituals

7) Fun


Cover photo - ways to reconnect with your spouse

Introduction

Midlife, especially during the transition to empty nesting, is a pivotal stage when couples often find themselves at a crossroads, questioning what's next for their relationship.


The shifts in family dynamics in midlife can lead to feelings of loss, but they also present unique opportunities for us to rediscover one another and strengthen our bond.


Drawing from both my professional and personal experience, in this article, I will share my most effective tips to help you reconnect with your partner during this new chapter of your lives.


1. Communication Is Key to Reconnecting With Your Spouse

I really hate to start out with something that seems cliche’, obvious AND is the focus of every other article about human connection, but I'd be remiss if I didn't clearly state, upfront, that communication truly is the foundation of every single relationship.


If you cannot communicate with your partner effectively, it will be impossible to successfully execute any of the suggestions below. 


Communication is not just about talking, it’s also about listening and understanding.


We often become so focused on our own personal experiences and challenges that we forget to actively listen and empathize with our partner's perspective. This, naturally, leads to misunderstandings and distance in our relationship.


Make time each day to really talk and listen to your spouse. Put away distractions like phones, turn off the TV and truly tune in to what they are saying.


(Seek professional help if you and your partner are unable to communicate effectively.)


communication is key to reconnect with your partner

2. Reconnect With Your Spouse by Defining the Core Values of Your Relationship

In my article about determining your core personal values, I outline a step-by-step process that you can use to determine and define your core own values in order to design a life that is aligned with what is most important to you.


Beyond your own values though, to reconnect with your partner, it’s absolutely essential that you also both fully understand each other's core values.


Knowing your partner's core values, will help you better understand them. Many of your frustrations with your spouse dissolve into "ah ha moments" when you understand what truly makes them tick on a deeper level. (“ah ok, that’s why he does that the way he does….”)


Here’s where it gets fun.  (OK - A psychologist's idea of fun, at least.)


Next - take the long list of core values that you used to determine your own and do the same exercise with your spouse to determine the core values of your relationship. 


Your relationship's core values may or may not match either of your personal core values. What you’re trying to get at here is what your relationship all about. What makes your relationship work? When are the two of you at your best together?


As an example. My core values are connection, growth and impact. My husband's are achievement, responsibility and balance. (I swear he's not as boring as he sounds.) Our relationship's core values are respect, teamwork and exploration.


Knowing your relationship's core values will give you focus and direction for the next exercise - relationship goal setting.


Setting goals together helps you reconnect with your partner

3. Set Mutual Goals To Reconnect with your partner

The Why

With your relationship's core values in mind, the next step is to spend time together brainstorming and dreaming up your goals for your lives together - from this day forward. 


This process will take some time, but it's absolutely worth every second you put into it. It's not an exaggeration to say that dreaming of, defining and working together toward our common goals is what most ignites our energy as a couple. 


Our shared goals and the plan we have created together to achieve them, enable us to look forward to the future with excitement, rather than dread of the unknown or of change.


The How

To decide on your relationship goals, the first step is to set aside at least a weekend for the two of you to "get away" to spend time together and think.


A change of scenery is key to having a fresh perspective so the ideas can flow.


If possible, travel somewhere together (even if you simply rent place in the next town over) and spend as much time as you can spare talking about all the things you’d like to do (together and apart) throughout the rest of your lives.


Ideally, you’ll come up with “someday” goals, 10 year goals, 3 year goals and 1 year goals. Start with “someday” (What’s the ultimate way you want to live your lives together? What does that look like?) and work your way down from there, creating a plan of how you will get to your “someday.”


For extra credit - and for the greatest chance of staying on track and actually achieving all that you're dreaming about...Once you've decided on your one year goals, further break these down into well-defined (measurable) monthly and weekly targets.


Be patient. This process can take quite a while. 


When my husband and I did this the first time, we began with a weekend getaway, but then continued to brainstorm and discuss for a couple more months before finally deciding on big "someday" goals that excited both of us. (We had giant notes taped all over our walls with colorful, random thoughts that had popped into our heads written in sharpie.)


Pro Tip. (Unlike us...) Don’t obsess too much about making sure you have the exact “right” goals. You can always change them later. There are no "wrong" answers and whether or not you achieve your "someday" goals is not actually very important.


What IS important is that you have a shared vision and begin to act in ways that are aligned with achieving this vision.


You may not get all the way to "someday"...but you'll get much farther, and have more fun along the way, than you would if you never created this invigorating vision of the future of your relationship. (You've likely heard that more positive psychological benefits arise from the anticipation of a trip than from the trip itself. The same holds true here.)


The point is to, on a daily basis, begin to live like, and have the habits of, people who achieve such goals. Whether you actually achieve them or not is secondary.


Maintenance

After you've established your relationship goals, revisit them frequently to make sure you're still on track and that they are still aligned with your current lives. I recommend revisiting your "someday" down through 1 year goals at least once a year.


Revisiting your goals is also particularly important during times of major transition, such as deciding on a career change, a relocation and at the beginning of the empty nest phase of life.


For all you overachievers out there, I suggest you schedule monthly (or even better, weekly) chats with your spouse to touch base and review progress on your shorter-term goals.


thoughtful gestures are great for reconnecting with your spouse

4. Romantic Gestures Will Help You Reconnect With Your Spouse

Hopefully, by midlife, you know what your own and your spouse’s “Love Languages” are, but if not…there is no time to waste.


Figure them out now!  


Dr. Gary Chapman's five love languages include 1) Words of Affirmation, 2) Acts of Service, 3) Receiving Gifts, 4) Quality Time and 5) Physical Touch. 


If you’re like most couples who have been together for many years, you’ve probably started to take each other for granted - and romantic gestures and simple moments of affection have fallen by the wayside. 


To reconnect with your partner, you must make an effort to fix this. 


An entire book could be filled with ideas. Be thoughtful and creative and make absolutely sure to match your efforts with what your partner most appreciates.


12 ideas to help get your romantic juices flowing include.


  1. (Words) Say “I love you”

  2. (Words) Tell your partner WHY you appreciate them

  3. (Acts) Cook a meal

  4. (Acts) Tidy up the house

  5. (Acts) Run an errand

  6. (Gifts) Create a handmade card

  7. (Gifts) Create a custom playlist

  8. (Gifts) Buy a book you know they’ll love

  9. (Time) Plan a date night or surprise outing

  10. (Time) Find a class or workshop to do together

  11. (Touch) Hold hands

  12. (Touch) Offer a foot massage


Reminisce to reconnect with your partner

5. Remember What Connected You to Your Partner in the 1st Place

Another fantastic way to reconnect with your partner is by reminiscing about the moments when you first came together.


What first drew you to each other?


What common interests did you share?


What made you laugh and have fun together?


My 10 favorite ways to reminisce are:


  1. Look at old photos and watch old videos

  2. Read old love letters

  3. Rekindle relationships with and visit old friends

  4. Recreate your 1st date

  5. Revisit the spot where you got engaged

  6. Watch movies from the time when you were dating

  7. Cook a nostalgic meal together

  8. Go on your honeymoon again

  9. Do things that you used to do together


music is a powerful way to reconnect with your partner

And….my absolute favorite…the most powerful and deepest way to remember what connected you and your spouse in the first place is to…


10. Listen to music from your "early days".


If you’ll allow me to don my Neuropsychologist hat for a moment, I'd love to explain...


Listening to music activates several areas of the brain, including the hippocampus (associated with memories) and the amygdala (associated with emotion processing).


The simultaneous activation of these regions (and others) creates a strong connection between the music and the memories and emotions that we experienced when we first heard the music.


Whether it’s as simple as enjoying a glass of wine on your patio while listening to songs from your dating years or traveling to see some of your favorite old bands play live, music has the power to psychologically transport us back in time, reigniting the strongest emotions we've ever felt for each other.


It's great stuff!


Daily rituals are excellent for regular reconnecting with your spouse

6. Create Simple Daily Rituals To Reconnect With Your Spouse

One of the greatest joys for couples in midlife is that we often now have greater freedom to spend more of our time together. Rather than defaulting to "roommate" status by always doing our own things, we can create daily and weekly rituals that bring us closer together. 


These rituals can be anything that you both enjoy. The possibilities are endless. 10 ideas include:


  1. Share a morning coffee

  2. Take a walk

  3. Enjoy a workout, yoga or simply stretching

  4. Enjoy quiet time (meditate, journal, read together)

  5. Enjoy high tea in the afternoon

  6. Express gratitude - about life and about each other

  7. Show simple affection such as morning and evening kisses

  8. Say “I love you”, “thank you” and “I appreciate you.”

  9. Cook meals together

  10. Create a nighttime ritual, including a review of the best parts of the day


Have fun with reconnecting with your partner

7. Have Fun Together To Reconnect With Your Spouse

Having fun together is one of the best ways to reconnect with your spouse and rekindle positive feelings toward each other, especially in midlife when routines have become monotonous.


Some ideas for having fun and actively engaging with each other include:


1. Travel

There's a reason why many of us romanticize the idea of selling all our stuff, buying an RV and traveling full time. The idea of leaving our baggage behind, exploring new places and experiencing new things with your spouse is exhilarating. My husband and I have dreams of living part time at home and part time in various other countries "someday".


There's no doubt that traveling with purpose can go a long way toward helping you reconnect with your partner.

travel is a popular way to reconnect with your spouse

2. Try new things

This could be anything from taking a cooking class to learning a new sport or hobby. What is important is that you try something new and challenging together. This will bring back feelings of excitement and adventure.


This article about some of the activities my women's social club, The Trybe, has done will give you 78 great ideas you can try on your own.


3. Date nights

Set aside one night a week for just the two of you to go on a date. Go out to a new restaurant, a comedy club, an art gallery - or act like a tourist in your town. Make an effort to dress up, keep the conversation light and fun, and focus on enjoying each other's company.


4. Find a joint hobby

Find a hobby that you BOTH enjoy and that you can do together. There are nearly unlimited ideas! For inspiration, check out my articles about empty nest hobbies, social hobbies and interesting hobbies for women in midlife.


The most common joint hobby of my couple friends is golf because it's a social sport that partners can play together throughout their lives.


5. Join a club together

Whether it's a wine tasting club, a book club, a social club, a sports league or something completely unique, joining a club has many benefits and offers a refreshing avenue for couples looking to reconnect with their partners.


Clubs present opportunities to step out of your daily routine by offering novel and engaging, shared experiences. All the work is done for you, you just have to sign up and show up!


6. Volunteer together

In midlife in particular, couples often look for experiences that add value and purpose to their lives together. Engaging in volunteer work presents an opportunity to see each other in a new light, admire each other's strengths, support one another's growth and remind yourselves of the values and aspirations that originally brought you together.


7. Attend local cultural events, concerts, plays etc...

Exploring culture through the fine arts can provide a refreshing escape from the mundane aspects of daily life, stimulate conversation and intellectual connection as well as to step into different worlds and perspectives together.


Explore culture to reconnect with your spouse

Final Thoughts

Finding ways to reconnect with your spouse is essential for nurturing and sustaining a healthy, vibrant relationship throughout midlife.


This article has described a variety of methods that couples can explore to enrich their bond by stepping out of their daily routines and embarking on new adventures that will ultimately strengthen their connection through shared core values, goals and experiences.


About the Author

Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at angela@the-trybe.com.


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