The Dance of Connection in Relationships
In couples counselling I often see couples putting pressure on themselves or each other to get things right in their relationship. The pressure for perfection becomes a comparison and the focus becomes you versus me. An important shift in relationships is moving from you versus me to ‘us’. Issues that arise in a relationship are just that – a difficulty within the relationship and not just with one individual person. Pointing fingers and blaming pulls us out of the relationship and back into the divide between you and me. When you notice frustration towards your partner or a disconnect, try to reframe the problem as being ‘within the relationship’ instead of being a problem with your partner. Another way to look at this is to view your relationship as a dance. A dance is always improving and evolving as the partners grow together. As with communication in our relationships, we can make mistakes in a dance. The more connection we feel and the more willing we are to work on our steps, the more the dance evolves.
When you think back on your busy week, do you notice a lot of connection with your partner? How often are you having conversations face to face and making eye contact? As life gets busier, we spend less, and less time connecting with our partners and typically spend more time in our own heads. Below are some examples that you can use to increase connection in your relationship:
Connection through ritual
- Saying I love you at times of parting; kiss goodbye; saying good morning and goodnight
- Making eye contact during conversations
- Physical touch throughout the day – sitting beside each other on the couch, a hug or shoulder rub in the kitchen while making dinner
- Calling each other on your way home from work
- Friday night game night or movie night
- Celebrating each other – planning something special for birthdays and anniversaries
Connection through active listening
- Paying attention to what is being asked of you
- Is your partner asking for you to solve their problem? Or are they asking you to be a supportive listening ear?
- Far too often we listen to our partners with the goal of fixing their problems to help them feel better. If we can take a step back and listen without this intention, we may notice that our partner just wants to be heard
- To properly help solve a problem, we need to first understand what our partner is feeling. Can you state the feeling your partner is experiencing? Do you understand why that feeling makes sense based on how they are viewing their world right now? We can develop empathy for our partners’ struggles without agreeing with everything they are saying.
Sometimes couples try to connect but continue to get stuck with the same communication issues and feel as though they can’t make progress. If you sense this in your relationship, it may mean it is time to seek couples counselling with a professional.
Shannon Baustad, MC, is experienced in many areas such as anxiety, depression, and relationships, plus many more. For more information on Shannon and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.