When talking to people about problems with their partner, they define them as disconnections and difficulties with expressing what one needs.
In these situations I find two dynamics useful, one is how to communicate and the other is related to one of the principles of systemic, Giving and Receiving.
In communication, not only with the couple, it is important what is said and how it is said. For this I want to share with you a very interesting tool called Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg. In his book, Rosenberg calls us to three actions: Self-observation, Emerging Feelings and Personal Needs. To connect with these three actions there are three questions:
What moves in me? –Observation
What would I need to fix it? –To feel
What do I ask the other person? –Need
Somehow we could summarize it in: “What moves in me, what moves in you and how can we collaborate to make our life richer and more beautiful?”
Once you’ve answered these questions and a need arises, the way to express it is through a Petition: “Please tell me if…” An example would be the need to spend more time with your partner.
In many cases, you may blame the other person and demand that they say things like “you’re never home” or “you don’t listen to me and give priority to other things“. This creates a rejection of the other person towards you, it is as Rosenberg would say, a jackal or aggressive communication. This work could be done by asking you,
What’s moving in me? You might notice that there is some kind of discomfort towards your partner, perhaps in the solar plexus or at the level of your chest, where the feeling of sadness is usually connected.
How could I improve my quality of life? By feeling this bodily sensation and focusing on it, it is very possible that you connect with an internal response, for example, feeling disconnected from your partner or having misunderstandings.
What do I ask of the other person? Having observed and felt you now have an internal response, but how do I communicate it? To do this in an assertive and empathetic way I encourage you to transform it into a Petition instead of an accusation. “Please tell me if you could give me a little more time during the week to share how we feel.”
I encourage you to come to a more specific agreement, some time after dinner or some evening doing some activity together. I also encourage you to read some of Marshall B. Rosenberg’s books, where you will find a much more detailed and profound explanation.
On the other hand, there is one of the principles of systemic in Family Constellation, Giving and Receiving.
This principle helps you explore how available you are when it comes to giving something to others and receiving from others. When you are giving continuously and not receiving you may feel exhausted, when you are receiving without giving you may feel overwhelmed or guilty. When you are not giving you may feel helpless, when you are not receiving you may feel ignored.
Here as a first step it is interesting to observe yourself and see these internal dynamics in you, sometimes you may give a lot, is it because you really want to give or are you giving to receive? This question is important because many times you may be giving, not because you want to, but because you are afraid that if you don’t give, you won’t receive. On the other hand, you may feel that you are receiving a lot and that makes you feel overwhelmed and without resources to give back all this that you are receiving. Here it is interesting to ask, am I really open to receiving? I invite you to make a systemic dynamic in order to experience all this.
#1 Place three papers on the floor like this:
One with the word Partner, one with the word Give and one with the word Receive. Place a line that joins them, it could be a rope or a painter’s tape, at the ends write 0 and in the center write a 10.
#2 Place yourself in Giving and from here explore, walking little by little from this point towards the Partner and observe the internal movements, it can be a pressure in the top of the stomach or in the chest or in the shoulders. This internal movement is your alarm, what number or position you are giving and you are not comfortable.
#3 Now look and stay where you feel comfortable. It may be a 6 or a 3 or a 9, it doesn’t matter the number, the important thing is that you feel where you are most comfortable in Giving.
Now ask yourself, what is it that makes you not in a previous number? Through this internal question you will be able to feel what is important to you in giving. From here ask yourself, what do I need to let go of in order to give a little more? In this way you will be able to feel what attitude or belief you need to let go of in order to get a little closer to your partner.
Once you have the internal answer, say it out loud and try to take a step towards your partner. Observe what is going on inside you, has there been any movement?
#4 Now place yourself in Receiving and perform steps #2 and #3, but this time ask yourself, what do I need to take in order to receive a little more? Again, look at what attitude or belief you need to let go of in order to get a little closer to your partner. It is very common for you to think that receiving is easier than giving, but many times receiving brings with it a vulnerability and openness that we are not used to.
#5 Write down all the answers and internal movements that have come up, this will help you to be more aware of what you need in a much deeper and more essential way and not so much from the superficial mind. Remember that you are not here to judge or compare, this is an exercise to observe and explore your internal dynamics, the more aware you are of them the easier it will be to manage and transform them.
As I always encourage you to carry out these dynamics in movement and not sitting in a chair, when you do it in a static way it is very easy for you to go to the mind and not be completely aware of your internal body movement.
You can also do this exercise by “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes”, that is, by doing the exercise as if you were your partner and having the role of Partner represent you, in this way you may be able to empathize and recognize sensations the other person may have in relation to you.
I hope that this dynamic can help you and you can have a more fluid and empathic communication with your partner.