I like how Ron Capocelli "Relationship Coach" simplifies it. He puts it down to 'bids' for connection such as a gesture, a look, a touch, a smile, a joke etc... and responses like turning towards, turning against and turning away. Also, Kelly Morris talks about the importance of communication - yeah, I know, fancy even having to talk about it! Of course its bloody important and how ridiculously obvious it is that it is an essential component for any functioning relationship, but somehow, I found myself in a relationship with basically no communication. Kelly's article "What is Emotional Connection" also talks about the importance of spending unstructured or unplanned time with each other, just hanging out as well as engaging in non intimate contact.
It's a big one for me. To find yourself in an emotionally empty relationship is so frightening, trapping, suffocating. I mean, you ask yourself thousands of times "how did I get here?" and eventually "how do I get out?". I sought help from a counselor and she taught me one huge lesson very early on and that was "couples need to have a healthy interest in each others inner and outer worlds". Simple. It hit the nail on the head for me. It really was THAT simple and It's exactly what I didn't share with my partner.
I did find The 5 Love Languages helpful from the point of view that it helped me better understand the person I was with, however it does not provide any solutions to a lack of connection or genuine interest in one another.
We all learn coping strategies to deal with situations we are in. Over time, we manage to somehow neutralise the pain of circumstances by adopting our sharp and creative techniques to gloss over, cover up or justify the dysfunction. We sometimes become anti-social in an attempt to hide what is really going on, or we spend a lot of our social time without our partner. Before we realise it, we have normalised a situation that is so far from normal, it could send you round the twist! I am convinced that living this way long term causes mental instability or illness of a permanent nature. Delusions, cognitive dysfunction, paranoia, depression, anxiety, etc...
All I can say is there is no substitute for a healthy relationship, that consists of conversation, supporting each other every day in the simplest of ways, a genuine interest in each others worlds, thoughts and ideas, and an acceptance of differences. All of this leads to a healthy sexual relationship.
It's never too late, that's for sure! x