People who have come in for emotional intimacy issues can be communicating clearly to their partner: “Get lost!” “It’s all YOUR fault!” It’s so very normal to get caught up in these communication pitfalls. It’s a negative loop of hope, desire, rejection, and hope again. I can show you how to get out of this negative loop without being out of your relationship. To begin with, ask yourself if it really is your partner’s responsibility to make you happy. When it is the others job to validate, soothe, and calm YOU down, you set yourself up to be unsupported when they have to back off from taking care of you through everyday life circumstances. This attitude sets you up for a mindset of believing you partner is responsible for your well-being, which we all know is not true for adults.
It’s not the lack of communication, but the quality of the communication, that’s really important in adult emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy. Respecting our partner can be as basic as allowing them to have a different perspective or lens than you do.
The first way to increase your communication is to practice accepting what they have to say, as if you are a big, loving mirror. This takes some active energy on your part, remembering your love for the person, and giving them some slack while appreciating who they are. Repeating back what you heard them say can be an act of acceptance and love, plus they feel heard. Then, you can ask for the same from them, as they practice repeating back what they hear you saying. This can tone down heated communication.
Secondly, practice taking full responsibility for your part of the dialogue, remembering you have been ok in the past and will be ok in the future. Put your energy in to the exchange in ways that make for a “win-win” solution, in ways that remember you are an adult, in ways that help them see you know who they are. When you can remember that you have overall been ok for many, many years, this can take the pressure off of the relationship when the going gets rough.
Thirdly, don’t give up while communicating. This means allowing your partner to have an equal role in the process, with both of you listening and sharing. When you are open and honest, and speak in “I messages”, there tends to be a balance in the interaction, and both of you are not trying to control or manipulate the other. Ask questions to clarify instead of giving in to automatic anger. Be curious even when you think you know the answer!
Love is a choice, and practicing this healthy style of communication can sustain your relationship when there are intimacy problems. When you are practicing, you are loving yourself as an adult in some very real ways, without expecting your partner to give themself up so you feel loved. Equal partners, who choose to communicate consciously, reflects this kind of mature love, which is very accepting, adult, and growth oriented.
At times bumps in the road can happen, in any relationship. That’s when it is important to ask for relationship counseling with a trained third party to guide and teach. You can individually, or as a couple, learn additional tips and tools to go beyond your old, normal, communication habits!