Looking for Depth in Your Relationship
One of the most helpful aspects of Compassionate Communication (NVC) is realizing that you can meet your needs in many different ways. Meeting your needs is not attached to any one person doing any particular action. (Even though habit energy might try to convince you otherwise).
At the same time you have preferences and make choices about what needs you would like to meet in what relationships. For example, you likely hope to have a depth of connection with your intimate partner. You might have deep connection with others in your community and still long for this with your partner.
Saying to your partner, "I want more depth in our relationship," probably hasn't gotten you very far. What you are likely asking for here is a familiarity with each others internal worlds which includes feelings, needs, hopes, dreams, thinking processes, longings, creativity, insights, physical intimacy, requests and more.
Creating more depth in your relationship is greatly helped by these two things:
1. An individual commitment to self-reflection.
That is, you each have a practice of reflecting on the following:
What is my intention today?
What are my priorities?
What did I notice about my experiences today?
Who am I in my life?
What is most meaningful for me?
What am I excited about?
What are my dreams and how am I moving toward them?
What am I celebrating?
2. Set aside regular (even daily) uninterrupted time for sharing.
Set up this time so that one person at a time is speaking and the focus stays on them for a given period or until they say they have been heard. The listener reflects and asks clarifying questions. This is a time in which you are just hearing each other without problem solving, analzying, fixing, or interrupting. You give your partner your undivided attention and receive the same in return. Sharing is met with warmth, curiosity, empathy, and celebration.
In this sharing, hold the conscious intention to share your internal worlds related to events rather than the events themselves. Share as many celebrations as you do difficulties.
These instructions are simple and straightforward, but can be difficult to follow. It takes courage and trust to reveal more of your internal world to your partner. The important thing here is to allow this to happen little by little. Your partner may not share at the depth you would like in a given sharing time. Let their willingness to try be cause for celebration. Offer a space without judgment for your partner to come forward with what is real for them. Saying things like, "Can't you say anything more?! Don't you have any emotions?! You don't really feel like that, That's just your analysis not what you feel!" won't create the sense of trust and safety needed for vulnerability and depth of sharing. If you welcome the mundane superficial sharing, your partner will begin to feel safe to share with more vulnerability.
This week notice how often you have uninterrupted sharing or together time with your partner. Notice what trumps this in your daily life – cleaning house, TV, phone calls, computer, work, etc. What might help you shift or let go, to create more spaciousness in your life for a greater depth of connection?