Creating Emotionally Safe RelationshipsAuthor: Relationship Builder
1. Safe relationships involve suspending judgment –I can't begin to recount the times I've jumped to conclusions regarding my judgment of someone's motives.Even though "what" someone has done is clear, "why" they did it is rarely as obvious. It takes time and patience to discover what is in someone's heart and what motive was behind their behavior.
2. Safe relationships involve celebrating differences - The difference between you and others is a reason for celebration. The beauty of the distinction between you, your friends, your mate and your family members can be likened to the genius of the different parts of the human body having unique functions, yet contributing to the health of the whole body.
3. Safe relationships involve honoring others – We demonstrate honor to others by respecting their perspective and opinions. When we allow others to express their views and feelings, we are communication the fact that they have value. In the Bible we read, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." [Romans 12:10]
4. Safe relationships involve being trustworthy – Tom Peters, businessman and author says," Technique and technology are important, but adding trust is the issue of the decade." Mahatma Gandhi said, "The moment there is suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted."
Trust is a function of both character and competence. Consequently, strive to follow through with your promises – both in word and performance.
5. Safe relationships involve respecting boundaries – Often when people feel threatened or insecure they will erect an emotional wall of protection. Resist the temptation to knock down the wall and force yourself through their boundaries. Instead through patience and understanding, create a climate where the other person feels safe enough to begin to lower the wall of protection on their own and in their own time.
Michael Fehlauer has been married to Bonnie over 30 years. They have experienced both the height of success and the devastation of failure. As a result, Michael Fehlauer and Bonnie Fehlauer have a strong desire to see the same healing they have experienced happen in the lives of others. Michael Fehlauer and Bonnie Fehlauer have traveled extensively throughout the world holding marriage and family conferences.
Relationship Advice: What Is Needed For Deeper Emotional IntimacyAuthor: Richard Nicastro, Ph.D.
"I'm tired of feeling alone in my marriage." ~Christian, married three years
Often times, when couples complain about a break down in communication or some other marital/relationship problem, part of their distress centers around feeling emotionally disconnected from each other. This lack of emotional intimacy is often a warning sign that something needs to be addressed in your relationship.
Feeling emotionally safe and close to your spouse/partner is one of the hallmarks of a healthy marriage/relationship. Think of emotional intimacy (a sense of togetherness, of having a strong emotional bond) as the glue that holds your relationship together, through the good times and the stressful times. Couples are more likely to weather the challenges of life (as well as the challenges that come with being in a relationship) when they feel emotionally engaged and connected to one another.
But emotional intimacy doesn't just happen—it requires certain conditions in order to germinate and grow. Understanding these conditions and understanding what makes you feel connected to your partner, will go a long way toward creating the right conditions and toward keeping your relationship healthy.
7 Conditions for Emotional Intimacy
Here is a brief listing of what you might need and expect from your spouse/partner in order to feel emotionally close:
~Attentiveness (the willingness to be attentive to one another);
~Consistency (knowing that your partner will be there for you day after day);
~Empathy (a willingness to try to understand who you are and your perspective);
~Kindness (nothing invites us to share ourselves more than a compassionate, loving partner);
~Patience (knowing that you partner is flexible and doesn't expect perfection from you);
~Respect (the assurance that you will never intentionally belittle or shame one another);
~Responsiveness (feeling that your partner will respond and act appropriately to your needs);
~Truthfulness/Honestly (if you feel your partner is being deceptive in some way, emotional safety and intimacy will never be realized).
As you read this list, do these feel familiar to you? Are they part of your marriage/relationship?
But your spouse/partner isn't the only person responsible for working on deepening emotional intimacy. In fact, s/he can do all of the above (and even more), and emotional closeness can still be lacking in your marriage/relationship.
How can this be?
The Conscious Decision to Be Open to Intimacy
"All relationships involve the risk of connection." ~Peter, discussing his decision to remarry after being divorced for four years.
At some point, couples take the risk to open themselves up to the gifts of emotional intimacy—without this openness, an internal door will remain closed and a nagging disconnection will persist. While the conditions listed above might make you more likely to open yourself up to intimacy, ultimately, you have to make the conscious decision to do so. Like the quote above, you have to risk connection again.
The relationship you have with yourself (how you think and feel about yourself, your willingness to trust) has a dramatic impact on the level of emotional intimacy you can form with your spouse/partner.
Here are a couple of issues to be mindful of:
~Self-acceptance (are you compassionate to yourself and able to suspend self-judgment and criticalness?);
~Feeling worthy of intimacy and love (without a sense of feeling worthy of receiving love, a part of you will always remain shut off to the gifts of intimacy);
~Self-understanding and clarity of your needs (if you don't connect with and communicate your emotional needs, how will your partner know what you need or how to meet your needs?).
So if you feel that emotional intimacy and closeness is missing in your marriage/relationship, go through the above lists to see what might be needed to create the optimal conditions for intimacy. And remember, intimacy is not only about your partner: the ability to be open and self-accepting is the crucial second-half of the intimacy equation.
Rich Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist and relationship blogger with extensive experience working with couples on how to deepen intimacy. Click Relationship Help to read Dr. Nicastro's latest blog posts and to access his free bonus reports.
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Rich Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist who has been helping couples for over fifteen years. To receive the Relationship Help Newsletter and two free reports on how to strengthen your relationship, visit Rich's website at http://StrengthenYourRelationhip.com/