Most people describe a committed love relationship consisting of two people. But we define a love relationship as "two people plus the Space-Between them.”
This Space-Between is a core theme in our work with couples. But, what is it and how does it help guide you and your partner to create a conscious, thriving relationship?
It may look like there isn’t anything between you and your partner. But there is. Consider outer space. Our universe is filled with stars, planets, meteors, and comets. We used to think the space between these celestial objects was empty. But, astronomers have proven that the dark space isn’t empty at all.
The dark space is filled with gravitational pull and energy fields that actually hold the planets in their orbits. Just because something is not visible with the naked eye doesn’t mean it’s not there. The intangibles, in fact, are often the invisible glue that holds it all together.
In relationships, the Space-Between includes all intangibles between partners. Every spoken word, tone of voice, every glance contributes to this energy field. It also includes the unspoken communication of body language (called nonverbal cues). It’s these interactions in the Space-Between that directly determine the experiences inside and the condition of the relationship.
For example, there are times when you and your partner feel connected to each other. The air is safe to breathe. These are the times when the Between is filled with loving behaviors. Conversely, there are times when things are strained. The air is thick with judgment and tension. These are the times when the Between is filled with conflict and disconnecting behaviors.
While it is easier said than being done, our first mantra for couples is: remove all negativity from the Space-Between. Criticism, blame and shame are like toxins. They act as an acid, corroding your message to your partner.
The Space-Between you and your partner is like a river that runs between you. You both drink from the river and bathe in it. So it’s important that it be free from garbage and toxins.
To keep the water running clean and pure, you must stop filling it with criticisms and hurtful comments. You must move from self-care to relationship-care. You must infuse the Space-Between with affirming, positive, and loving behaviors.
The Space-Between may look like ordinary air, but please do not ever treat it in an ordinary way. Your relationship needs to be the most important thing in the world to you.
Truly think of it as holy ground. It is then that your relationship (you, your partner, and the Space-Between) becomes sacred.
If you and your partner are struggling with the Space-Between and the Point of Connection in your relationship, Imago Relationships North America is here to help. Check out our Imago Relationship workshops and therapy.
This blog post was written by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., and Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D.
Relationship experts and NY Times best-selling authors Helen LaKelly Hunt, Ph.D., and Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., are the co-creators of Imago Relationship Therapy, practiced by thousands of therapists in over 37 countries.
Dr. Hendrix has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show 17 times, and Oprah affectionately calls him the “marriage whisperer.”