In today’s fast-paced society, more and more people find it difficult to listen to one another. The stress of modern daily living affects many areas of our lives, and it particularly takes a huge toll on relationships. Too often, we tend to run our lives in a robotic manner, communicating through codes and SMS.
We often see people talking at one another rather than to each other, hearing but not really listening. Many cannot wait for individuals to finish talking. They cut them off before they complete their sentence, and in turn, come up with an answer to bring up their own agenda. Chances are that you have been in this situation and can recall your feelings of frustration.
Do you remember a time in your life when you felt someone really listened to you with his/her whole being?
Do you recall listening to someone wholeheartedly with all ears?
Listening plays an important role in the success and vitality of relationships. Heartfelt listening enables an intimate connectedness and an empowered union to flourish. An honest wholehearted listening deepens the partners’ familiarity with one another and opens their eyes to explore the richness of each other’s inner worlds. It offers an opportunity to discover the mystery of intimacy.
Dr. Jack Zimmerman and Dr. Jaquelyn McCandells developed a relationship model for couples intimacy which is based on a unique way of communicating and listening without judgment .The practice, named Flesh and Spirit, emphasizes listening to the voice of the relationship, which best serves the relationship. This practice enables a heartfelt dialogue which transcends the couple’s relationship into a new path—a place of the heart. The model encourages the growth of the relationship as well as the individual empowerment within the relationship. Many couples that practice this heartfelt communication reported rejuvenation and a deepening of their intimate bond.
Here are five tips that improve and deepen intimate relationships:
1. Designate time to frequently celebrate the relationship.
Allocate a quiet place with no interruptions from cell phones, TV, etc. Create a romantic setting filled with candlelight. Sit, facing one another, hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and share a positive story—a positive memory that you remember about your partner. Focus on something you love and appreciate in your partner that brings a smile to your face.
Not only will sharing with your partner what you feel enhance the relationship and deepen your intimate bond, but you will also share what are you willing to do to make it happen.
The practice helps create a safe environment that can transform your relationship into a source of inspiration by stretching your imagination through creativity, playfulness, humor, adventure, and spontaneity. The transformation brings a fresh new energy and a renewed life force into the union.
2. Listening without interruption.
Each time you feel like reacting when your partner speaks, take a deep breath, and listen to the end of his/her last word. It helps to use a talking piece, and only the person who speaks, holds it. Put the talking piece down when you are finished speaking, and allow your partner to express him/herself.
3. Speaking from the I feel.
Ask yourself, Am I communicating from my ego or from my heart? Relax and be totally present. Allow your vulnerability to emerge when you speak from the I feel place rather than reacting or blaming. When speaking from the heart, share how you feel without pointing a finger. It creates a room for healing, as obstacles and challenges turn into stepping-stones and opportunities for growth.
4. Use affirmations.
We all can use positive affirmation … a show of love, kindness, and support—rather than criticism.
Express to your partner frequent words of affirmation. Compliment your partner. Leave love notes, write poems and love letters, and express positive validation towards your partner for the things he/she does that make you feel good. Familiarize yourself with those things that make your partner happy or that are important to him/her.
A hug, a pinch, or a smile will spark up the day. The relationship thrives on such shows of affection.
5. Go from the Me to We.
In every relationship, there is an individual voice within each partner that feeds self-indulgent, egotistical needs. But it is important to stay mindful of the relationship’s needs. This third voice is called the Voice of the Relationship, a neutral voice that serves the well-being of the relationship. In times of tension, conflicts, and disagreements, attuning to the voice of the relationship cultivates a conciliatory atmosphere by bringing a different perspective to consider. It’s like going out to the balcony to get a different view on things.
Dr. Moti Peleg & Ronit Rinat Peleg