Relationship dynamics can be confusing and muddy and leave you feeling unsure of which way is up. Am I right? Are they right? What are we even trying to get to here?
Balancing the emotions, desires and needs of other people is complicated. And as someone who is simply human, such as yourself, it can be hard to know the best way to interact and respond. This is especially hard in intimate relationships – like marriage or parenting.
But there’s a growing body of research on ideas founded by a lady named Sue Johnson (and many others) that can serve as a guiding framework for navigating relationships well. These ideas show that connection is a basic need for people – just as food and shelter are. We are designed and innately hard-wired to need relationship.
But there are a couple of things that determine whether our relational needs are met or not, and if we feel safe and secure within the relationships that exist in our lives.
“A.R.E.” you there?
This question can serve as a filter through which you determine your priorities and lens for interacting with your spouse, kids and other close people. When your goal is connection – here’s how you get there.
Three Ways to Connect with your Partner
The beginning of creating a secure relationship is Accesssibility. Can you be reached by your partner? This may seem simple enough. Sure – all they have to do is speak up. But this extends beyond physical accessibility. Are you emotionally and relationally accessible to those you love? Can you stay present in the moment and in your body long enough to truly hear and see them? When they feel they need you, can they reach you? Or do you find yourself distracted, busy, balancing a million spinning plates, and maybe too tired to be fully present in your relationships some days? Being accessible means tuning in to the person in front of you and being present physically, mentally and emotionally.
Once you are accessible, can you also be responsive? As you see or hear the feelings and needs of those you love, does it impact you? You can show responsiveness by making it clear that your partners emotions and needs are important to you, acknowledging what you are hearing, and responding gently. Responsiveness means that your partner can rely on you to respond when they have emotions or needs. This often means building the skill of not being reactive. Learning to lean into what the other is experiencing, rather than being defensive toward it. Responsiveness means being responsive to the others needs and emotions, not just your own.
Finally, are you engaged with your partner? Engagement means that those you love know that you value them, and that you aren’t going anywhere. It is a sense that you are dedicated and involved in the relationship. An expression of care, consideration, and commitment. When you are engaged, you express true interest in another and are a safe person to be close to.
So as you move forward in trying to pursue connection in your relationships, here is a framework that can serve you in navigating the best ways to engage with those you love. Seek to understand if you are able to be accessible, responsive and engaged in order to provide safety, intimacy and connection.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. You may have your own needs and wounds that make being these things difficult. Or maybe you just need more clarity on how this can make an impact in your relationships. That’s what we’re here for. Make an appointment and we will explore the world of connection together!