As we move through the various stages
and challenges of our relationship,
it becomes extremely important
that we make time for reconnecting.
As a follow up to last month's Intimacy Questionnaire, let's examine the first item for our consideration:
Time Apart Intimacy - sharing what we did when we were apart for a few hours or at work.
When we come home, most likely our partner will greet us with, 'What did you do today?'
Since most men take things literally, we may interpret this request to mean a listing of all the activities of the day. Of course, we do not want to go over the day so we answer, 'Nothing. Same old stuff.' Work is work. How interesting can it be?! We want to leave work at work. Besides if we go over what we did, there may be a million questions and the discussion will get larger and larger. Also, it may feel like interrogation.
Our partner is not looking for a detailed account of our day. There is a deeper question beneath the one asked. It is a relational question: What do you bring back to our relationship that might interfere with our reconnecting? Are you coming home angry? Are you coming home happy? She wants to reconnect so she is asking to see if there are any emotional obstacles to our reconnecting.
As we move through the various stages and challenges of our relationship, it becomes extremely important that we make time for reconnecting. Unfortunately, after we pass through the first stage of our relationship, the exploration stage, what conversation we do have is more of what I call maintenance talk: What's for dinner? How was your day? What's on television?
Maintenance talk has its place, but if it is the predominant type of conversation we have we may stop growing as a couple. Often we think we are sharing ourselves when actually we are talking more about the children or work. We aren't necessarily talking about how it was to be ourselves at work or with the children. After conversation such as this, we find ourselves knowing no more about our partner than when we began. It is also amazing how many things we use so we do not have to share ourselves in conversation.
Maintenance talk often is the type of talk used while watching television because we are not looking for self disclosure or anything over two sentences. A friend, who is a loyal Redskin fan, has a sweatshirt with a picture of a man sitting in front of the television and his wife is standing nearby. The man is saying to his wife, 'Honey, is there anything you want to talk about before the season begins?'
After being apart, we can reconnect by sharing what it was like to be apart, what feelings we experienced, and what insights into ourselves we gained. Also, it is wise to make time for reconnecting.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700