Do you feel pulled away from your partner?
Of course you do! Your home has probably turned into an office/school/daycare like so many of us. There are Zoom meetings in the bedroom, conference calls in the living room, math class in the kitchen, and a dog barking during all of it. It is hard to find time for yourself never mind think about your partner’s needs. But I want you to envision a time in your life when you felt your best. Was it because you were able to show appreciation for your partner? Did this closeness between you energize your soul and bring balance to your life even in a stressful time?
IMAGO founders Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt shared these 5 Tips for Relationships in the Midst of Coronavirus Times which I practice in my relationship. I hope you try these techniques. I think you will feel a real shift in your relationship which will bring you closer.
- Honor your partner’s time by making an appointment. Ask “Is now a good time to talk about…?” We are all facing life circumstances which fall outside of the “norm” right now. By choosing to make an appointment with your partner before engaging in conversation, you show them respect and care. While this system may feel formal, structure creates safety which in turn invites spontaneity. By honoring boundaries in this way, you prevent negative interactions with your partner.
- Allow for boundaries by giving your partner the option to say “Now is not good.” Then, ask when might be better. When you are mindful of your partner’s preferences and personal boundaries, you open the door to a healthy and productive interaction when the time is right. Should your partner choose to engage with avoidance, the best response is to remove expectation and allow space with acceptance. Consider saying something like: “When you are ready, I have something to share with you.” Pushing against a boundary strengthens it and can cause conflict; therefore, it is best to operate with respect and patience.
- Show curiosity for your partner by asking “Is there more about that?” If you think you know everything there is to know about your partner, think again. By adopting an approach of open, engaged interest in your relationship, you open the door to true closeness. On the other hand, a “me” focus invalidates the speaker, which triggers a “put- down” experience that activates anxiety and defenses. Instead of facilitating sharing, polarization is created. Struggling to see the shift from self-concern to curiosity? Encourage your partner to know that curiosity creates a state of safety, in which more can be shared without conflict.
- Express empathy for your partner by saying “I can imagine you might be feeling…” Until you can experience or imagine what the other person is experiencing as they live in their world, you do not truly know them. Empathy is the ultimate form of generosity, in which you allow another person’s inner world to be a part of your inner world. You might notice that you and your partner are experiencing new or heightened emotions amid the current pandemic. When you encourage sharing of these feelings, you will likely find that you are able to connect in new and more profound ways. It’s true that the way we talk and listen changes everything.
- Show appreciation by simply saying, “Something I appreciate about you is…” Maintain positivity in your relationship by sharing with your partner what you appreciate about them. Perhaps you’re struck by how hard they work to care for your family, or the ways in which they support you. Let them know! The cumulative effect of appreciation is that it creates an atmosphere of safety, and that you begin to feel what you appreciate at a deeper level. You come to see your partner as a truly valuable person by your act of valuing and appreciating them. Your self-experience is also impacted in how you begin to feel the feelings that you produce within your partner, ultimately bringing you closer.
To experience an ever deeper connection, join us in December for an online ‘Getting the Love You Want‘ Workshop where we will give you the tools to navigate your relationship.
You will get all the support you need or want, just as you would in an in-person workshop. Because we are sensitive to online fatigue, we will adjust the schedule, and you will have time to write or practice on your own with our help.
You can also feel confident deciding how much personal information you want to share with the group. We will spend time together learning new theories and communication skills. Then, we will send you to private cyber breakout rooms to practice those skills. Only the facilitators will have access to your rooms. You can ask us to stay and assist or send us away if you feel you have everything you need to connect with one another.
We hope you will join us!