A necessary part of what is considered mature love is creating a safe space for your partner (male or female) to open up, express, be vulnerable, and ultimately connect with you during times of being upset with one another. We need our loved ones to trust that if they get triggered, we will work to sooth them, that we want to help them get calm again, and that they can rely on us to do our best to respond positively. This seems obvious and even easy to some but the subtleties of creating and sustaining this environment can be tricky.
Importance of Engaging With Your Partner
Many couples don't realize the importance of engaging their partner in a loving way, talking with them to ensure they feel heard, and calming them down when the other is upset. Far too often in these situations, we find ourselves slipping into a defensive posture that includes explaining ourselves, counter-attacking, or shutting down. Caring for your partner's vulnerability and learning what it takes to calm down their nervous system involves attention to the three primary non-verbal languages:
- Visual (eye-contact) A sense of reassurance, safety, and openness in the eyes.
- Tone of voice Conveying love and respect rather than defensiveness or blame.
- Physical touch Soothing your partner through touch.
Each of us varies in the nuances of these languages so it's essential to find out from your partner what in particular allows them to feel accepted and safe during times of conflict. Do they prefer to be touched...massaged...to lie quietly...to have eye-contact...to not have eye-contact? What are the words you can use to convey your openness to hearing what is going on for them in that moment?
Find out from your partner how exactly you can convey the message that you are an ally - that whatever they are feeling, you are invested and committed to valuing their feelings. You'll find that if you become invested in calming, soothing, and validating your partner when tension arises, you will see just how quickly friction dissipates and lengthy arguments are short-circuited.
If you find you need some additional help with your relationship, reach out to let us know.