That is a high-definition relationship. That is intimacy. Not only can we know what their favorite food is and what they studied in college, but we can also start to understand how they felt when their dad worked too long or their sister made fun of them whenever they were in public. We can understand more than just the facts. We can start to understand their experiences too.
When you know someone intimately, you understand that they are beautiful, complex human beings. You understand that their responses come from a place that is not entirely contained in their bodies. They have histories and experiences that have formed them. They have circuitry in their brain that respond even faster than they can think.
But it also does something else which, as it turns out, is one of the most important parts of this whole process. It validates the speaker. That’s a fancy way of saying that the speaker knows that their emotions make sense or that they are not off the wall for feeling the way that they do.
When you understand that your partner has their own experience and their own sense of meaning, you start to realize that what you’re intending to communicate may not actually be what’s being heard. What was meant as an innocent joke is the start of a two-day silent treatment. Instead, with this understanding you can adjust what you say and how you say it so that you partner is able to fully hear.
Your experiences change you. On the first pass, that statement may seem to go without saying. It’s a given. You can probably think of some of those milestones right now. Maybe it was graduation day. For some people, it may have been the loss of a loved one. Marriage, the birth of children, retirement: all of these are great examples of milestone moments. These are the kind of moments we point to when we say that something happened and now we are different.
Your relationships matter. The relationships that you have with your caregivers give you a set a expectations about the world that can be long-lasting. It can have an impact on how you experience relationships with your intimate partners later in life and even in the type of person that you’re attracted to!
If you’ve ever bought a car, then you’re aware that there are tons of different models to choose from. When you finally decide on what model you’re going to buy, you realize that each model has it’s own trim. If you buy a Camry you can get an LE or a SE or a XLS or a XSE or a PDQ or an ABC – I may have made a few of those up. Either way, they all have different options and capabilities.
Earlier this year, I presented a marriage enrichment seminar entitled Everything Matters. Over a series of posts, I hope to share many of the thoughts I shared in that seminar with you! Enjoy!!