Couples experiencing relationship distress can become easily entangled in the chaos of the current crisis that they find themselves at a loss for knowing how to bridge the gap towards connection in meaningful ways. This is especially true when the pain they are feeling has been caused by a wounding from their partner. Cultivating connection while waiting for healing in those hurting places and allowing space for problems to remain unsolved is a painful and lonely place to be. Here are Five strategies that may be helpful as you plan intentional time together to build connection.
1.Be mindful of your intentions
You are both taking a shared risk to experience each other in new ways. It will be natural to wander into conversations that take you down the road of your story. When you find yourselves in that place and begin to feel yourselves getting stuck, pause, take time to breathe deeply, and bring awareness back to the present of learning how to experience each other in new ways without allowing the anxious thoughts to take you away from the experience of being present in this moment.
2.Focus on The Present
As you choose to engage in connecting activities, take in the beauty of what is surrounding you by fully engaging in the moment with all of your senses. Mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose to the things around you and not getting stuck or lost in the thoughts that quickly consume. Taking in the experience through all of your senses helps you remain grounded in the present.
3.Lean into the ache
The pain of the relational wound can show up unexpectedly during the day, so when it surfaces, give space for it and call it what it is. While this may sound counter intuitive, validating your pain and places that your partner is hurting without feeling the need to carry the weight of defending, justifying, or fixing it communicates that you are able to hold your partner’s vulnerability and desire to be present in that place. Through nonverbal cues and presence, you communicate the message that you are fully present and are able to share space in this difficult place. The ache is the reminder of the significance of your bond and the shared desire you have to move towards connection.
4.Let go of outcomes and expectations
Cultivating connection and fostering a felt sense of safety is done over time by experiencing each other in new ways. By allowing yourselves the freedom to let go of demands of outcomes or holding expectations that the other show up in a different way you allow yourself space to breathe into what is your current experience.
5.Be kind to yourselves
You are doing the work of repair in your relationship, and you are both desperate to get out of this stuck place. As you would care for and offer grace to someone you saw hurting, extend that same kindness to yourselves. Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, go for a walk, watch a mindless comedy, and laugh together.
Don’t ignore the elephant in the room.
Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. By tending to these tender places of repair with care, you signal to your partner that you are present and are willing to engage in conversations to increase felt safety and connection while providing the necessary structure to hold space for one another’s experiences.