Have you ever wondered why our closest intimate relationships provide our deepest comfort and solace, but can also cause us to feel our loneliest, most unsupported and frightened?
Much of this contrast evolves from early socialization and romantic notions encouraged by pop culture, literature, and fairy tales, which emphasize the intoxicating excitement of romantic love (and even the spark of a great new friendship) and omit the critical component of nourishing a relationship.
A relationship can offer ongoing warmth and security and be a source of many good things. The key is recognizing what we desire is a sense of connection.
A connection exists between any two partners in a relationship, but maintaining connection requires mindfulness and focus on our relationship vision. As with any mindfulness practice, the combined artistry of attention with intention allows us to create the qualities we desire in our partnership.
Nature ensures we connect through the spark of attraction. It feels so exciting, and the instantaneous reduction of anxiety and a sense of finding a soul who immediately recognizes us elates us.
However, underneath the surface, we have unconsciously bonded with a partner we will expect to help heal our developmental, emotional wounds and, sure enough (because nature is ingenious), they will have the same unconscious expectations of us.
This bonding and need to heal will all emerge over time, and it's the very reason we see a transition from romantic love to a more routine and occasionally problematic stage of relationships full of conflict - called the power struggle phase.
An intentional relationship involves keeping aware of the goal of connection. We are together in partnership because we want to feel a wonderful sense of security. If we keep that in mind, we can explore how to help one another feel the way we wish to feel.
For example, if a partner had parents who ignored him/her or retreated to other responsibilities, and she/he felt unheard, she/he would want their partner to listen actively.
In contrast, if a partner felt overwhelmed and intruded upon by his/her parents, he/she may need a lot of personal space, solitude, and downtime.
Both partners' needs can be met if both understand why the other needs these things and learns to express them non-confrontationally.
When love is the foundation and connection to the goal, understanding differing needs can lead to compassionate understanding.
This blog post was written by Aviva Chansky Guttmann, LMSW, CIRT, an Advanced Imago Clinician and Safe Conversations Facilitator practicing in the Mid Hudson Valley, in New York.
Her background includes several areas of practice including medical social work, energy psychology, sex therapy and EFT ( Emotional Freedom Technique-tapping).
Aviva facilitates and launched the Red Hook Holistic Practitioners‘ Support and Connection Group and an Empath Support Group. She offers educational workshops about Imago and Safe Conversations to community groups and teaches safe dialoguing techniques in adult continuing education settings. Check out her website today!