Using the ‘Play by Play’ of our Minds to Build Intimacy

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Couples often come to counseling feeling distant and wanting connection. They want to feel closer to their partner but don’t know how.  Sometimes there is a real sense of loss.  The closeness or emotional intimacy that used to be so accessible has disappeared.  There can be a fear that you’ll never recover it and that it is gone forever.

 

There is a lot that we experience in every moment.  There are thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, worries and fears that we’re taught to hide.  Sometimes we get so good at this that we are even unsure ourselves of what is going on.  It can take really slowing down and getting curious about what is coming up for us, and then feeling safe enough to share it with another person.   Sharing can be hard if we are afraid of being judged, or hurting someone.  We fear that if we share what is true it will create more distance, the opposite of what we want.    

 

I often tell couples that building intimacy by sharing what is vulnerable can seem counter intuitive, and the way to connection is to share what I call a “play by play” of the mind.  These are the things that we usually keep to ourselves.  For example you come home and want to connect to your partner and they are in the middle of reading.  You want them to notice that you have a want for connection without saying anything.  They don’t notice.  It’s easy to assume that this means they don’t want to connect.  You may feel rejected and either lash out or withdraw creating distance between you and your partner. 

 

Sharing the ‘play by play’ means first turning towards yourself and recognizing both the want that you had and the feeling of rejection, and soothing this unmet need.  When there is space to talk to your partner, you can share the experience you had without blame.  Sharing what is vulnerable and authentic gives our partner an opening into how we operate and can create a space of compassion and empathy between you.

This is an art that takes practice.  Couple’s counseling can be a safe space to practice this vulnerable sharing.  I draw from the work of Marshall Rosenberg’s ‘Non Violent Communication’ to provide the vocabulary to express both the feelings and unmet needs. These tools help couples navigate through what could get in the way of intimacy.

 

 Daniella Beznicki, MFT is a couples therapist in San Francisco at The San Francisco Marriage and Couples Center.

Daniella Beznicki, MFT is a couples therapist in San Francisco at The San Francisco Marriage and Couples Center.

This is an art that takes practice.  Couple’s counseling can be a safe space to practice this vulnerable sharing.  I draw from the work of Marshall Rosenberg’s ‘Non Violent Communication’ to provide the vocabulary to express both the feelings and unmet needs. These tools help couples navigate through what could get in the way of intimacy.

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