Connection & Disconnection, Learn How it Works in Relationships Episode #36

Connection, disconnection, disconnected, podcast, relationships,couplesgoals,couples

Connection in relationships fall into negative patterns so easily, it’s a lot harder to become more aware of them in order to interrupt them. Our life is full of frustration & what better way to relieve ourselves by pissing on our partner? We don’t kick the neighbor’s dog we kick the partner we live with. Everyone does it. Negative patterns in couples are an ordinary problem & they need to be interrupted.

 

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Connection & Disconnection, Learn How it Works Episode #36

Negative patterns in couples are an ordinary problem like eating unhealthy snacks. There is more attention paid to how we eat than to our negative patterns in one of the most important parts of our life. Thinking about interrupting our bad habits with someone you love is actually as important as flossing our teeth. (I say this as a proud flosser who was told at 32 I would lose 2 teeth & 32 years later I still have those teeth).

I remember all my resistance at having to figure out flossing……it seemed like there were hundreds of teeth to clean with that slippery string…..& I pushed through my catastrophising, distorted thinking because it’s ridiculous to lose teeth at 32. So you need to care enough about improving your relationship to become aware of the slippery ways we ignore each other & dismiss each other.

Awareness is the beginning of change. It’s easy to take each other for granted instead of taking ownership for how we mistreat each other. If we are oblivious then we can pretend it’s really not that terrible while our relationship develops cracks in the infrastructure that lead to disaster.

It’s way easier to disconnect & so much harder to be vulnerable & connect.

In our culture we take the easy way out a lot. We lie & tell people what they want to hear instead of truth. We silently stash resentments & get divorced. We decide sex is a chore we don’t want to be bothered with. We work too much because in our roles we know who we are and at home it’s confusing. We dump our insecurities on each other to fix instead of fixing them ourselves. We let our anxieties run rampant & spill all over our partners instead of trying to learn how to self soothe. We tolerate disrespect & sometimes contempt instead of asking our partner to course correct. These are all negative patterns.

It’s amazing all the negative patterns there are available to our human dark side.

I’ve worked hard to whittle down my own dark patterns & 2 still remain. I’m a terrible back seat driver & I’m crabby when we leave on trips. I’m certainly not claiming all the others are gone but these are the 2 worst that still lurk around defeating me.

In past episodes I’ve described a pattern of someone being Too Much & someone is Too Little. This is a common pattern where both people in the relationship have a lot to learn from each other. The relationship expert Dr. Susan
Johnson used the words one person pushes & one person withdraws. This is an ordinary negative pattern that fuels disconnection.

Stop & ask yourself which one are you? It’s hard to make contact & experience connection if one person asks, demands too much without recognizing how that ends up pushing the other person away. If the other person is silent & withdraws, again there is no contact or connection. Add in the spice of disdain & it’s a recipe for disconnection over the long haul.

So what helps with turning towards each other to have a chance at real connection? The person who does the pushing needs to back up & recognize when they are expecting too much, not seeing whats important to their partner. The withdrawing person needs to step forward & speak up about their true wants instead of swallowing them. It involves a willingness to be more authentic & to risk seeing each others fears that lie below the surface of demands & silence.

Below the surface of insistent demands & silently stashing resentments is often the fear of loneliness for BOTH people.

Loneliness is like death we don’t like to think about it much & yet, it is ever present.

It’s a terrible all too ordinary tragedy that so many people are lonely in relationships because they don’t really see each other. I recently watched the final episode of Mad Men. I found it very moving when a man in group therapy described himself as being on the shelf in a refrigerator and the door opens and he sees his wife & kids being happy & he’s inside in the dark & nobody picks him up off the shelf. As he dissolves into tears, Don Draper stands up goes to him & they both sob holding each other. It’s about loneliness & fears, because it’s so easy to stop seeing each other & we all suffer from it.

10 Ways to Access Greater Connection:

Connection is about being vulnerable, sharing our loneliness & fears.
Connection is about asking for what you want not testing the other person by waiting to see if they guess accurately. Connection is risking authentic disagreement with each other in a respectful way.
Connection is about knowing who you are, not waiting to be taken care of (You can’t be lost in a relationship).
Connection is about recognizing when you are hurtful to your partner & acknowledging that.
Connection is about doing things for the other person outside of your comfort zone.
Connection means understanding you BOTH contribute to problems.
Connection is all about being curious instead of making assumptions.
Connection is about learning new information about how you impact the other person.
Connection often requires forgiveness.

If you want to improve your relationship connection, learn to have some imagination about how they are different from you.

Connection is not about Blame for what hasn’t happened. Connection is not about indulging your self righteous exaggerated feelings. Anger does not contribute to connection. Connection is not about indulging the immature parts of who you are. Connection is not about hoarding power. Connection is not about you knowing what’s best for the other person.

Things that contribute to disconnection: SHAME, RESENTMENT, OUTBURSTS, CONTEMPT, ANXIOUS ATTACHMENT, REACTIVITY

Connection answers the question: Am I important to you? That is the longing we each bring to the table.

My challenge for you today: Do you Push/Demand be Too Much or Are you Withdraw/Too Little/Silent??? What are your triggers for negative interactions? How easily do you shout blame or silently get stuck in shame or resentment? Try opening the door on your curiosity about the other person instead of taking comfort in old, tired assumptions. Ask yourself do you feel lonely in your relationship, does your partner? Share & ask about loneliness, be open to the idea you may be missing the boat on important stuff for your partner. Discuss with your partner your negative patterns with each other that need to change……

Episode 37 in October will be on Pornography Addiction, Why it’s Worth Worrying About with David Jonvee.

Most new listeners of this show found out about it through a friend or a blog post. If you’re someone who has told someone else about What Healthy Couples Know that You Don’t, thank you SOooooo much. It really means a lot that you would do that for me. Follow me on twitter & instagram @rhodaoncouples.

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