If you've been in an emotionally abusive relationship, Dr. Steven Stosny explains, you almost certainly have developed habits of emotional disconnection. For instance, touch and eye contact are usually the first things to go in distressed relationships.
Because your husband has to overcome a nagging sense of relationship inadequacy, he should initiate all of the following for the first months of recovery.
Establish a daily routine of brief but consistent moments of emotional connection with your wife:
- Hug at least six times a day and hold each hug for at least six seconds. (Hold them that long to overcome any initial awkwardness.);
- Take at least six seconds six times a day to appreciate her;
- Have a weekly date night with just the two of you. (Inexpensive activities or just going for a walk alone together will do the trick.) This has to be as important as an appointment with your boss;
- Adopt a brief daily ritual that expresses your wife's importance to you. For example, offer a single flower or a flower petal, light a candle, write a note or hum a few bars of a song you both like;
- Imagine a permanent lifeline—like the kind the astronauts use in outer space—connecting you emotionally, no matter how far apart you are;
- Take six seconds six times a day to think positively about her when you are not with her. This will make you behave more positively toward her when you are with her.
- Manual of the Core Value Workshop
- The Powerful Self: A Workbook of Therapeutic Self-Empowerment