In my last blog we discussed the findings from my interviews and counseling with many couples. To bring you up to speed, here’s what we found. Men and women are, DIFFERENT!!! Not even within the same solar system, different. Women defined themselves as ‘Relationship Beings’, meaning that the essence of who they are is built around their relationships. Men, on the other hand, are not (Relationship Beings). The problem here is that you now have a ‘Relationship Being’ in the most important relationship of her life with someone who is ‘Not’. So how do they survive?
They both need jobs in the relationship. As the woman is more naturally oriented towards relationships, she becomes the guide/navigator. The man’s job is to make his wife HAPPY! When? ALL THE TIME! The reason for this is that when you make your wife happy, she multiplies that happiness, and gives it back to you ten-fold. Don’t trust me on this one. Turn to your wife/partner and ask her.
So the question then becomes, ‘How do you make a woman happy?’ Attention. Affection. Appreciation. We will cover all three, but for now, let’s focus on Attention and give you some specific tools you can put into practice immediately. Firstly, when we talk about Attention, we’re talking about ‘Undivided Attention’, which means, turn off the television, put down your electronic devices, and assume the position. What does ‘assume the position’ mean? And why is it important? Assuming the position means to sit across from your spouse/partner, face them, legs and arms uncrossed, while maintaining unbroken eye contact for 2 minutes a day. The position is important because about 85% of communication is non-verbal. So when you are sitting or standing across the room from your partner, there is disconnection. When your legs or arms are crossed, you’re sending the message that you are not open to the conversation or to connection. When you avert your eyes, you are disconnecting from your partner. By assuming the position, you are sending a strong message that what your partner has to say is important to you, that they are important to you, and most importantly, that you care about them. Let’s try it now for 2 minutes. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
How did it go? A bit awkward and unnatural? Great! It means you’re learning something. The more you practice, the easier and more natural it will become. Once you and your partner become comfortable with this practice, you can change your seating positions to be even more connected. Sit on the couch together, close enough that your legs touch. But the part that seems to be the most effective is holding hands during the exercise. I know it may sound cheesy, but it works. When you hold hands, there is such a strong feeling of affection, attention, and love. Connection! You can also use this strategy when resolving conflict as it acts as a reminder that despite the fact that you are upset with each other in that moment, there is such a strong foundation of love and affection. It works as a disarmer by sending the message that even though we may feel hurt and disconnected in that situation, we love each other, and will work it out.
Sometimes the emotions are too high to discuss the conflict in that moment. You both need time to breath and get your emotions in check to understand why each of you is truly upset. To ask yourself which one of your own buttons was pushed in the situation? What have you done to cause pain and disconnection with the person you love? This is truly the most important part of the process because when emotions are high, there is no clarity; only emotions reacting to emotions. So a time-out is needed. But whenever possible, try to remain holding hands while you are individually processing. Once you let go, there is risk of greater disconnection and elongated pain. Make no mistake, this is no easy exercise. It requires inner strength on both sides to stay connected. But I can tell you that it works. It takes practice. But it works.
So here’s your homework for this week. I want you to practice 2 minutes of Undivided Attention every day for the next 7 days. Record your experience. What worked? What didn’t work? And tweak the exercise so it works for the both of you.
Lots of love,