Sarah Pullman - Bodymind Counselling

Bodymind Counselling in Victoria, BC

Seven Tips for Deeper Connection That All Couples Should Try

Posted by Sarah on Aug 20, 2013

Sometimes, the most profound changes seem deceptively simple. 

In my counselling practice, I often see couples who are yearning for a deeper, safer, more meaningful connection with each other. They love each other, they want to stay together - but often, one or both of them can't shake the feeling that there ought to be more. The truth is, it's easy to live side by side with someone, sharing a bed, sharing meals, and sharing a routine, but without truly sharing your hearts. Sometimes we have gotten out of the habit, and sometimes we never had that habit (most likely because we did not have good modelling to teach us what healthy emotional closeness is). 

This morning I read an article that I wanted to share with everyone I know who is in a relationship. It's an excerpt from Emotional Intimacy: A Comprehensive Guide for Connecting with the Power of Your Emotions, by Robert Augustus Masters. Disclaimer: I have not read the book myself, so I cannot speak to it as a whole. However, I highly recommend the article, which you can find here: 7 Ways (Besides Sex) to Emotionally Connect with Your Partner.

Tip #1 is incredibly powerful in and of itself, so I'm going to copy it here. It's deceptively simple, but potentially transformative when applied regularly. 

"When you realize you're being reactive, say "I'm being reactive." 

How simple this sounds, and yet how challenging to put into practice -- mostly because of the shame we're on the edge of fully feeling as we become aware of our reactivity.
And once you've stated that you're being reactive, STOP, no matter how tempted you might be to continue your reactivity. Soften your belly, breathe more deeply, and wait until you're ready to say what you're feeling and nothing more."
That's it. A simple thing with the power to transform so much between two people. Self-awareness, honesty, and breathing. 
It's a variation of another simple rule that I often reference, which I learned from Robert Gass: "Don't Act While Triggered." Just don't. And of course you sometimes will, but the point is to move yourself towards a conscious intention to STOP when you notice that your heart is racing, you suddenly have tunnel vision, you can feel blood pulsing in your face, you feel frozen, or you feel like throwing something. It takes some will power to check yourself at this point (sometimes heroic amounts of it), but it is an incredibly powerful thing to practice. No one can be their skillful best while reactive/triggered, and it is in those moments that we are most likely to do things we regret later. 
Creating emotional intimacy is an ongoing process: sometimes deeply scary, sometimes enlivening, sometimes frustrating. It asks us to dig deep into ourselves, and to learn to tolerate vulnerability in ourselves and in others. In my (albeit biased, as a counsellor!) opinion, it is work worth doing. Good luck on your journey!
sarah irons counsellor
sarah irons counsellor