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When your partners AND parents together, there are no end of potential stresses that can create bad vibes between you. Your partner doesn’t get up in time after scrolling on her phone late into the night. Your partner doesn’t make it to the doctor’s appointment on time that you waited 3 months to get! Or maybe you’re drawing on every emotional resource you have to stay calm during your child’s tantrum but your partner is losing it. With situations like these, resentment can build and build. Irritation and competition between us adults can make for a really shaky foundation in the pursuit of a peaceful home. This can also make for a miserable day to day existence.
I know what it’s like when you’re breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping, meeting others’ needs all day long and you don’t feel like there’s room for one more person’s needs when your partner gets home. Or perhaps you’re getting home from a busy day at work, and just need to decompress!In the past I’ve sometimes felt like my husband was one more person demanding things of me. It felt like our relationship was one more place where my energy needed to go and I just didn’t have any more left to give.
But the truth is that our adult partnership (if we have one), can and should be the very source of radical energy, of healing, joy and of connection. Just as we get to create an intentional relationship with our children based around our values, so too do we get to intentionally create the type of vibe and connection that we have in our adult relationship. We get to create the type of home that we want to be a part of.
How Do We Connect When Resentment Has Been Building?
So how do we create this type of connection with our partner when we feel so disconnected? When we’re stuck in victim mindset? When resentment has already built up and we have a long list of things that they’re falling short on?
One thing I do when I feel resentment building up and I’m just not connected with my partner is that I go back to basics. It’s so fascinating to think about the way we connect with babies and how for most people, this happens naturally. It’s instinctual. We connect with babies on this very visceral, sensual level and the truth is that I believe that all humans need that type of connection on a daily basis. I find that when I need to connect with my baby, my eight year old or with my husband, we can come back to those very basic needs. The first one is that we all need to be seen as inherently good.
- Hold Their Goodness To Light – We all need and want to be seen as inherently good. I call this “holding someone’s goodness to light,” whether it’s our partner, teenager, or our kid, they all benefit by knowing that we see them as such a source of good in the world. They need to know that we love them on a really deep level, and that we like them as well! (i.e. We like it when they come home. We like reconnecting with them. We like having a meal with them. We enjoy talking and getting to know them better on a regular basis.) If you’ve been apart from your partner, notice how your facial expression and body language communicates your excitement, your interest in seeing them, your curiosity about them. Babies command that kind of curiosity and undivided attention from us. Have you noticed how when there’s a baby in the room, all eyes get drawn to the baby (or the cat)? But the point is that having that person look right at you, take interest in you and hold your goodness to light is a basic need. However, it’s one that we very often throw out the window once people mature past babyhood.
Additionally, when you see the goodness in someone else they’re more likely to see the goodness in you. So put on those rose tinted glasses and catch them at their best. Notice what they’re doing so well. Notice the inherent goodness, value and worth within them while helping them to feel that acceptance and unconditional love. Then watch them rise to it.
- Connect in a sensual, physical, visceral way – Again this is how people connect with babies! We touch babies. We stroke them. We cuddle them. We hold them. We notice them. We make eye contact with them. We’re always physically actually connecting with them and the need for that amount of human touch does not actually go away. But most of us are touch starved and eye contact starved. As adults, we use these senses to convey a feeling of closeness and love and their important simply can’t be overstated. Everyone needs a bit of lavish attention. In romantic adult partnerships we need that flirtation and sexual energy as well. Sometimes that dries up when we’re so busy with life and that’s a tragic loss for everyone. Since connection is a bit of a chicken and an egg thing, those cuddles, eye contact, and flirtation actually chemically bond us with our partner and create the connection that we seek. So when you feel disconnected, try acting connected. Try using these bonding mechanisms of touch, eye contact, and closeness and see how the hormones just kick in and the chemical bonding occurs. Thus, making you feel connected.
Some of us go entire days without so much as a peck on the cheek. If this is you, how about a prescription for long extended eye contact and 12 hugs a day minimum.?
- Let off some steam by showing our silly, playful side – We all need a chance to be less held together, and less responsible. We need a chance to take off our parent/doctor/worker/responsible hat, whatever it is that you do, and just be free. We do this naturally when we’re falling in love, we just kind of disconnect from the world and play hooky for the day. Or when we have a new baby, we suddenly put all of our effort and energy just in being present and enjoying ourselves together. So how about bringing in some of that energy into your partnership? Change the atmosphere. Put on some music for a while. Have a dance party. Get outside or have a fit of giggles and laugh until your sides hurt. If there’s tension and resentment building up between you. How about we use some humor to diffuse it? Can you use playfulness and silliness as you would in your parenting to diffuse tensions in the relationship, not to mention flirtation and intimacy, to change up the atmosphere and bond you closer? The real truth is that a good vibrant connection with our partner feeds us, energizes us, and nourishes us. It’s something you do for yourself and for your family wholistically, and of course for your partner as well. It feels good to feel good.
Can we allow ourselves to step away from the competition, the tit for tat, the counting who did what, and instead step into a joyful, radically healing, energizing, vibrant energy within our relationship? Just as you deserve to intentionally create the type of connection that you seek with your kids. So too, you deserve to intentionally create the type of connection you seek with your partner. So if this has spoken to you, then maybe next time you see your partner, try a little flirtatious eye contact, a silly joke, a long embrace, some wild off-script moment where you have a crazy dance party or laugh until your sides hurt.
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Which way of reconnecting is speaking to you the most? Are you inspired to hold your partner’s goodness to light? Connect physically? Show your silly and wild side? Which one feels like a struggle? COMMENT BELOW!