In the course of a long-term relationship, conflict is bound to happen.
But what should you do when conflict escalates from a somewhat harmless and mildly irritating disagreement to a full-blown heartbreak? Hurtful arguments, and other forms of betrayal or martial problems, even infidelity.
Both the emotional and physical bond you share with your partner is extremely important for a healthy, happy long-term relationship. But it can be difficult to want to share your heart or your body with someone after you've been through a damaging conflict situation together.
Here are 7 tips for repairing your relationship after conflict, restoring your bond and intimacy…
1. Talk and Talk and Talk
Sexual intimacy in a relationship is the quickest way to restore a romantic bond with your partner after a conflict. It's why make-up sex feels so powerful and causes you to feel so connected to your partner. It's an emotional and physical union needed to move on.
Make-up sex is an emotional and physical union couples often rush to after a verbal sparring match, but it is more difficult to achieve the same satisfying bond when trust has been broken.
Bodies, minds, and hearts work in unison when a betrayal or conflict has occurred. They all become closed off to your partner after there has been a strain in your relationship.
In order to restore your connection to your partner/spouse, you need to communicate openly about the conflict. Be calm and honest with one another about the problems in your relationship. Only then will you be able to establish intimacy and work on rebuilding trust.
2. Apologize to Each Other
It's easy to focus on your partner's wrongdoings during a conflict, but remember that it takes two to tango. In order to move on after a relationship conflict, both offending parties should accept responsibility for the role they played in the incident and genuinely apologize before taking the next step to move on.
3. Problem Solve
How did your relationship conflict occur? Was it a lack of communication or too much alcohol that led you to say things you shouldn’t have? Was there a seemingly ‘innocent’ incident on social media that led to an emotional or physical affair?
Instead of attacking one another, focus on solving the problem at hand. The solution to repairing your relationship after conflict may be as simple as practicing different communication methods or as complicated as seeing a couples therapist to work on your issues together more deeply and with specialist guidance.
Whatever your method for problem-solving, you cannot move on and begin to restore intimacy bonds unless you figure out WHAT went wrong in the relationship and figure out HOW to prevent it from happening again.
4. Build Your Bond
Whether you’ve been through an intense fight or a mind-numbing betrayal such as infidelity, it can be difficult to focus on anything else when you’re together.
Now that you’ve talked about your issues and you’ve both taken responsibility in the situation, it’s time to start rebuilding your bond.
Ignoring your problems is not healthy, but sometimes you’ll need to table your conflict discussion to make space for bonding time. Healing takes time, patience, love, and effort. It can be difficult to move on and strengthen your relationship if your hurtful conflict is constantly being brought up.
Practice a regular date night together. This way you can have one day or night a week where you don’t bring up your conflict. Instead, focus on having fun together. Plan dates and focus on romance.
5. Focus on Emotional Intimacy
There is more to an intimate bond than having sex. One way you can work on reconnecting intimately is by using non-sexual intimacy.
Emotional intimacy comes from having deep conversations with one another and sharing in non-sexual touch. Expressing love or appreciation, hugging, kissing one another, caressing, and admiring one another without sex are all excellent building blocks to restoring a physical connection.
6. Reconnect Intimately
Reconnecting intimately after your bonds have been broken can be difficult. Often the last thing you feel like doing with someone who has broken your trust or hurt your feelings is create a sexual connection with them. Yet, that is what many couples may need in order to start trusting one another again.
Thus, a vicious cycle begins:
- Trust is broken.
- You want to be intimate with your partner.
- The thought of being intimate after betrayal then frustrates, repulses, or upsets you.
- You draw away from your spouse.
This cycle can cause irreversible damage. Of course, you do not want to force intimacy, and true repentance and forgiveness should occur before you begin fixing your relationship. Still, it is key to note how important intimacy in your relationship afterwards, for helping to heal traumatic conflict.
Being sexually intimate with one another creates a bond that is incomparable. The oxytocin released during sex makes you feel good about your partner and the relationship you share. Scientifically, these hormones are responsible for building trust and emotional connections. They're brought on by sexual and non-sexual touching. This building of trust between partners is what you will need to restore your connection.
7. Intimacy Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Betrayal hurts, words hurt, and being in a long-term relationship… well, sometimes that hurts too!
But it will get better if you give it time. Repairing the bridge to intimacy with your partner/spouse doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t been able to get there yet.
Continue communicating with your spouse and work on restoring your romantic relationship and emotional connection. Intimacy will soon follow.
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Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.