Are you aware of what state you are in when you and your partner come together?
On a recent visit with my daughter and her family, she and I were taking a walk and talking about our mutual work.
"I read a lot of books about relationships that offer suggestions for how to approach your partner to get your partner to connect with you," she said. "These books do a great job of describing the ways we behave that cause relationship disconnection—which is helpful—but I have not found it helpful with my husband to TRY to get him to connect with me. We connect naturally when we are both connected with ourselves."
"I've found the same thing," I answered. "Very few books stress the importance of taking personal responsibility for our own feelings and learning to connect with ourselves first. Relationships work when we come to our partner connected with ourselves, and happy and peaceful inside. Trying to talk about anything to get connected or resolve problems when we are disconnected only creates more problems."
"And when we take care of ourselves," she added, "we don't need to talk much about problems. We get to talk about fun things!"
Think for a moment about how you come to your partner.
• Do you come needy, empty or insecure, trying to get love, attention, connection, validation or sex to get filled up or feel worthy and lovable? Do you use niceness, over-talking, blaming or complaining to try to get what you want? Are you trying to get love rather than be loving?
• Do you come resistant, just waiting for your partner to want something from you so you can shut down and resist?
• Do you caretake your partner to avoid him or her being angry or upset with you—doing what you think you 'should' do to keep the peace? Is your primary intention when you come to your partner to avoid rejection?
• Do you come to your partner happy and peaceful, having done your own inner work so you can share love, connection and fun with your partner?
• Do you come to your partner because you are open to learning about yourself and you want your partner's help in helping yourself?
• Do you come to your partner because you see that your partner is sad and hurting and you want to lovingly be there for him or her with your comfort and caring?
• Do you come to your partner because you see that your partner is overloaded and in a time crunch, offering your help?
In the first list, you are coming to your partner to get something, control something or resist something. Your intent is to make your partner responsible for you and get your partner to change and do what you want him or her to do.
In the second list, you are coming from an inwardly open and complete place, filled with love that you want to share with your partner, or with a deep intent to learn about yourself or support your partner in some way.
Rather than making your partner responsible for filling you up, making you happy, defining your worth or making you feel safe, you have done these things for yourself before coming to your partner, or you are coming genuinely wanting your partner's help with your own inner exploration.
It's such a blessing for me to see my daughter and her husband coming to each other open, happy and loving. And I can see the wonderful effect it has on my grandsons, who also come, most of the time, to each other, to their parents and to me with the same openness, joy and love.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to discover real love and intimacy? Click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone and Skype Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!