We all start out our relationships enamored of each other. We feel that magical connection and even experience the ecstasy of union. We usually become couples because of this bonding, full of the sense that we are on the same side, sharing love, caring and support.
So, what happens to these wonderful beginnings? Sadly, many couples lose contact with this all important underpinning to their relationship. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, sometimes due to lack of attention, but often coming from unhealthy relationship behaviors, they lose their initial connection and eventually become estranged from each other. Frequently a sense of distance, or even worse, the feeling of being adversaries develops.
If you are experiencing this in your relationship, do not despair. There really are a number of things that you can do about it. Two important factors in maintaining intimacy are openness and acceptance.
It is of paramount importance that you be open in your relationship. You have to show up, be there, expose yourself, or else your partner can’t see you, can’t understand you, can’t empathize. It’s easier to say than do, as we’ve all learned to hide ourselves, to fit in, to avoid ridicule, to protect ourselves. But in a close relationship, these layers have to go. Peel them off one at a time: take a risk, then another risk. You will be seen for who you are, something that makes all of us feel good and less defensive. The less you feel the need to defend yourself, the more you can both experience the pleasure of being together.
Another factor that renews relationship connections is total acceptance. For the initial intimacy to endure you need to accept your partner completely – all their weaknesses, foibles, quirks and habits. That’s who they are. You can’t change that (though you can bring lots of stress into a relationship by trying!) We assume that your core values match, so there are no aspects that are fundamentally unacceptable. Once that is the case, make sure that your partner knows that you accept them for who they are. Support their individuality and their personal growth and they will know you mean what you say. The more you both feel accepted in your individuality and not impinged upon by your partner, the closer you both will grow, paradoxical though that may seem. The more you show appreciation for who your partner is and the more you acknowledge them, the quicker you will experience the return of that wonderful closeness you once shared.
To make the move back to intimacy, you will need to make some changes, not in your mate but within yourself. What are the factors that are causing this disconnect? Have you become set in your ways? Do you keep score and make lists? Do you use language that is supportive or do you accuse and blame? There are many behaviors which drive people to feel they are on opposite sides instead of united on one side together. Realize that it is within your power to behave differently, and when you do, even small changes escalate and can produce amazing results. It only takes one of you to initiate different behavior that can have a strong positive influence on the relationship.
Are you and your partner living in the wrong time zone? We don’t mean that literally, but sometimes people are not in the same place, e.g. one person dwells on the past, their childhood or an earlier relationship. It is important to explore the factors from your past that influence how you relate. However, once recognized, they should be left in the past where they occurred. To truly find union with your partner, you both need to be in the present, experiencing what is actually happening together.
We’re not talking here about how to resolve problems or clear up misunderstandings. That is another topic. Here we are talking about renewing the bond between you, and with that strength, you can handle disagreements as partners, not adversaries. Reacquaint yourselves with each other. Start your adventure together with new fresh energy. The peace that arises when your relationship is a source of strength and not a battlefield will empower you in all of your life’s endeavors.