INTIMACY TIP: #Treat your partner like a stranger
You’re kidding me! How’s THAT going to make us feel closer??!!
Well you know, those ‘old sayings’ don’t become that way without there being some truth to them. So let’s have a look through an NVC lens at how familiarity would breed contempt (and therefore kill intimacy and connection…)
One of the premises of NVC is that our natural state is compassion and generosity. Simple litmus test: think of the last time you did or said something kind to someone, just spontaneously cos you wanted to. How did it feel in your own body? Great, right?
What takes all the joy and pleasure out of that kind of giving? Yep, any sense of ‘should’ – duty, obligation, guilt-tripping, being taken for granted (whether it comes externally or internally).
So getting back to the stranger thing – have you ever noticed how, if you ask a favour of someone you don’t know so well, you have no sense of entitlement to anything from them? Contrast that with what most often creeps into our close relationships – an attitude that our loved ones ‘owe’ us something, or are even there just to do our bidding. We’d never admit that, but it’s what we’re saying with our energy – (I don’t want to give away Marshall’s punchline, but check out his funny skit here to see the all-too-common definition and unspoken contract of ‘love’).
Practice: So, next time you want to make a request of your partner (or kids, parents, siblings, close friend or anyone else who has been reduced to ‘familiar’ status), notice whether you are approaching them with a ‘demand’ energy. If this is the case, you will be robbing them of the opportunity to enjoy freely giving, and also decreasing the chances that you’ll get what you want.
If you tighten up in panic at the thought “but if I don’t make them do it, I’ll end up doing everything!” remember, making genuine requests (as opposed to demands) isn’t about giving up on your needs. A ‘no’ to a request is the beginning of the conversation, not the end. It is about getting curious about what the other person is saying ‘yes’ to behind their no, and continuing the conversation with willingness to find a solution that meets both your needs. When your partner feels your sincere intention to care for their needs as much as your own, you’ll be amazed at how willing they are to co-operate with you, and what creative strategies you might come up with together that you’d never considered before.
For more help in how to navigate that kind of conversation, come along to one of these one day trainings, or make use of the many other opportunities for learning more about NVC.