As I was standing in line waiting, a man was standing nearby. He was talking to his wife on the phone trying to figure out her order. His voice was loud, back and forth the conversation went, he trying to get her order correct and growing more frustrated with each interchange of the conversation. The conversation dragged on for what seemed like hours to me. The tone of his voice sent me into major anxiety and I wanted to run out of the store. It took all the strength I could muster to wait for my order to be completed. It felt intolerable for the 5 minutes it lasted. I couldn’t help but think about what this couple must feel each time they have an exchange similar to that phone call. If a couple has most conversations like this one in their relationship it can be called emotional trauma for both people. It certainly was traumatic for me to listen to his end of the conversation that day.
As a Couples Therapist who focuses on Intimacy issues, I’m interested in helping people to feel safe, and to support a secure bond with each other. Most couples come to therapy wanting help because they are feeling unsafe emotionally or have experienced some form of betrayal of trust which has shattered the secure bond between them.
Safety and developing a secure bond in the relationship can be created by improving true emotional connection with your partner. That means doing some things differently to improve your relationship.
10 tips to emotional connection
- Identify and name your feelings. The first step to identifying your feelings is to recognize you are having a feeling. Many guys and some women are unable to even recognize they are feeling anything. When asked what they are feeling, reply I don’t know. If you are human and you are alive you have feelings, period.
- Share your feelings with your partner. Once you can identify your feelings, then you need to share them with your partner. Your partner wants to know you and your feelings are part of knowing you. You can’t share what you dont know. If you don’t know your own feelings then you can’t share much of who you are. You learning about your own feelings, helps you be able to connect to yourself emotionally which helps you to connect to others emotionally. This is a Key Step!
- Practice one person at a time sharing, and listening for understanding. This technique helps people share one idea or perception at a time. Take turns One person shares their feeling first, the other person listens for understanding and repeats back what they heard. if they got it right then switch roles, if not try again.
- Spend quality time together. spend time together where you are present emotionally, physically, and spiritually with each other. Be in the present moment.
- Make your partner your go-to person 24-7. Find ways to make your partner feel they are your number one priority. Return phone calls promptly. Text messages throughout the day when away from each other. Be creative.
- Do what you say you are going to do. Integrity and character building, If you say you will mow the lawn then mow the lawn. If you don’t intend to take out the garbage before work don’t indicate you will do it.
- Love all of your partner, warts and all. Don’t point out their weakness, they already know. Accept your partner in all things all of their weird little quirks. Remember, you have them too, and you want the same respect from your partner.
- Build up your partner in words and actions. Be positive and help you partner to be the best they can be. In turn, they will help you be the best you.
- Have your partners back at all times. No throwing them under the bus. Building safety and trust means protecting your partner and making sure you are always standing together through every life circumstance with strength.
- Protect your coupleship from other people. By protecting your coupleship from other people whether it is an inlaw or the threat of a flirty coworker, it is up to the two of you to make sure your coupleship is strong and secure with each other. Make sure you address threats to the coupleship and make accommodations that strengthen your relationship above your individual needs. By serving the coupleship first your individual needs will be fulfilled in a more stable and satisfying way.
If you find yourself being irritated and annoyed by your partner you can focus on your behavior and identify your feelings and name them. Use the statement, I feel_________(feeling word) when you__________(behavior). Be vulnerable when you share your feelings. If you come across as angry, critical, or blaming you may have less than optimal results. The key is to be vulnerable and share your feelings with love not venum.