That’s When We Know We are an “Us”
We are at our best in our relationships and in our lives when we feel “attuned” with our partner. It’s having that sense inside of us that our partner cares, that we matter to them, and that we are “special.” Feeling a sense of harmony in our relationship, we are able to provide that experience of “special-ness” for our partner in return.
In new relationships partners are often mega-attuned. They seem to naturally follow the lead of the other both emotionally and physically. Simply gazing in each other’s eyes, they may feel a dizzying euphoria. Their dance is coordinated and they are in rhythm together. They’re “as one” with each other.
As the relationship evolves, patterns often develop that block partners from being “fully present” with each other. This might happen as life accrues more responsibility, careers develop, children are born, or other life events interfere. Each partner may become less attuned to the other as their energy goes elsewhere. Once a partner stops feeling special, they know something is missing, but they may not have words to describe what it is, and resentments may develop.
When I see couples that are having difficulty getting along I often notice how they are not “in sync.” They want to feel “like us” again. They want their partner to be responsive and to tune into their feelings and needs. Understandably, each wants to feel special again.
When people live for too long “out of sync” and with important relationship needs unmet, they tend to get angry, frustrated, or to simply turn off their feelings. They might complain, stomp around, or act like nothing is wrong. They may make statements like, “We feel like room-mates, I feel alone in my relationship, or, I don’t know what to do to make my partner happy.” The longer this pattern continues and deepens the more disturbing and urgent it usually becomes.
What I believe is necessary is recovering that feeling of attunement. The first step is to make a clear decision to do this. There is no need to panic. What it does take is bringing the focus back to creating harmony as a couple and recreating that sense of “oneness” that was lost.
Rebuilding attunement cannot be done through fighting or arguing. It can and does only happen when a purposeful decision is jointly made to create a sense of “being seen, feeling heard and touched.” It is a gentle, safe, loving, and mindful process, a shared and couple-oriented project.
Here are steps you can take to create openness, harmony and attunement in your relationship.
- Take a pause to listen fully to your partner. When you listen fully you are taking in what is said to you and you’re not plotting out your next move. You are being present.
- In conversations, even arguments, decide to learn something new from your partner. It changes the dynamic from winning, losing, protectiveness, to being curious, interested, and caring. This creates the space to “hear.”
- Stop what you are doing and devote full attention on your partner and what is being said. This means putting down the phone, laptop, pad, or newspaper. This is being responsive.
- Focus on accepting your partner’s feelings. Even if you don’t agree with the content of what is being said, feelings are important and they are real. If you can validate your partner’s feelings that is a form of attunement.
These ideas can give you a start to redeveloping feelings of closeness, being seen and heard, and feeling more loved in your relationship. I know this can often be difficult to do. If you are struggling, consider getting help from a skilled couples therapist.
For more information about individual or couple counseling, workshops for couples, programs for men, you can contact Bernie at: Bernie@therapyforrelationships.com or at 763-541-8176.