The Valentine’s challenge: Reconnect with your partner in a meaningful way
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. – Over the years I have written numerous Valentines Day articles. This year I feel compelled to throw down the gauntlet, up the ante, challenge “youall.” I propose taking the inherent opportunity imbedded in Valentine’s Day. Move your relationship to a deeper and more fulfilling place. Best of all, it is free, you need only “intentionality” and discipline.
There are, I believe, two major things we want in our relationships. First and very foundationally, we want to feel “safe” with one another. I mean this in all ways; physical, emotional and spiritual. For the vast majority the safety issue is at the emotional level. We want to feel supported, acknowledged and appreciated rather than blamed and criticized. We want to feel we can share with our partner without fear of being minimized, blown off or reacted to. We want to experience our partner as interested and really wanting to understand our world without trying to change it or criticize it. We want our partner to be a good listener, not an advice giver or making it about them.
The second fundamental thing we want in our relationship is to experience a deep intimate connection with our partner. Remember when you first met? That amazing connection you experienced? You may have described it as “soul mate,” he/she knows me and even can finish my sentences. You can’t get enough of each other.
Unfortunately, that experience fades rather quickly, we “mate up” and the struggles slowly begin. Along the way we probably have moments where we briefly experience that deep closeness again only to have it fade and give way to chronic frustrations. We want so much to be with someone who understands us and is really there with us through it all.
It is my personal as well as professional experience how our relationship is going affects us more deeply than any other single issue in our lives. When we feel close and loving the sun shines brighter and our step is lighter. On the other side, when we experience distance and tension, our mind chews on it and the world feels gray.
I don’t want to settle for okay, for just going on and accepting the way it is. I want safe, intimate, loving closeness: yummmmmmmmmmm.
The Valentine’s Challenge
Using Valentine’s Day as the impetus, you set up the following experience:
l. Create a “romantic” setting. The two of you are alone and undisturbed. The cell phones and Iphones and any beeping device is off. No distractions. The setting could be in your home, at a cozy quiet restaurant, on the beach, in your RV, at a lodging, etc.
2. You lovingly invite your partner to sit across from you, facing you and close together. Begin by gazing into one another’s eyes and perhaps holding hands. Sit quietly like this for about two minutes connecting nonverbally. Then state your love for one another and your commitment to create and enhance your relationship as safe, intimate and loving. By the way, keep sex out of this for now.
3. Create your relationship vision. Each of you, separately, list on a piece of paper sentences regarding your relationship, ones that would be part of the relationship of your dreams. Some examples include: We take regular walks together holding hands; we make decisions by mutual agreement; we support one another’s activities; we express appreciation daily; we express ourselves to one another without blame/criticism. Take your time and include statements, written in present time and with do’s rather than don’ts. There should be statements relating to all aspects of your life together. When lists are completed, then sit together, facing one another again and take turns sharing your list, one item at a time, going back and forth. Check the items on which you agree. Don’t get into discussion, include it if agreed upon and don’t if not.
Then write out the agreed upon list. Decide on one item you both agree you want to implement right now. For instance, take a walk holding hands. And then do it. While doing it be very much in the moment and focused on your safe and intimate bond; savor it. Then, each day thereafter pick an item as a focus and implement it.
You are now consciously working together toward a common and stated goal, focusing intentionally daily on behaviors and attitudes that will slowly but surely achieve the goal.
Most of us need help/coaching/education to really achieve our goals. A part of the mindset of this vision is to do what it takes, mutually, to achieve it. We will have meltdowns along the way and if we have the tools and understandings (which we have to learn) we will clear up the upsets quickly and return to a place of safe connection.
– Rolf Godon Ph.D. is a psychologist specializing in relationship enhancement. He can be reached at 530-587-2557.