Talking Relationships: Independence and Intimacy: 5 Tips to help get the balance.
1) Take responsibility for becoming independent and developing your own life. This is the mark of maturity in a relationship, being able to stand on one’s own feet and come together with a synergy that is greater than either one on their own. Great relationships are a balance between the conflicting needs of intimacy and independence and can move fluidly between these competing needs.
2) Respect the need for space. It is a natural human
tendency to struggle with this in an intimate relationship where often a pull me-push me dynamic is evident. However, it is essential for a healthy couple to allow each other the space to develop themselves as individuals or they will have nothing of interest to bring back to the partnership. Relationships go through developmental stages. Accepting this facilitates a smoother transition as we quite naturally move from greater closeness to more space in the relationship and back and forth between the two.
3) But how much is enough? Our individual needs for space vary and are as complex as the human psyche itself. Healthy couples can negotiate their individual needs effectively so that each feels able to trust that they can meet their own needs both in and out of the relationship. They do not rely on each other to provide them with a feeling of self-worth or to fill them up.
4) Be courageous and willing to show up. Being present to another in an intimate way is the greatest demonstration of love possible. Be willing to be exposed and vulnerable with each other without judgement. Take risks in having difficult conversations and in sharing what concerns you have. State your own truth and you will be surprised how this gives permission to your partner to do the same. Be available to really listen to your partner, to walk a mile in their shoes and to extend yourself to see things from their perspective.
5) Choose to act from your values not from your hurts. When we live according to our values we feel happy. Our own happiness is more important than another person’s bad behaviour. By learning to respond not react we choose to be a leader in the relationship. It’s easy to see the difference: when we react, we are triggered by our own pain, when we respond according to our values, we choose the best response we are capable of, be it patience, courage to be truthful, kindness, gentleness or any other attributes we have chosen to live by. The ripple effect in our relationship to this just continues building and generating more of what we want, the goodies like love, fun, respect, rather than allowing negative cycles to be perpetuated.
Margie Ulbrick is a Melbourne Relationship Counsellor who works with people to create great relationships and more happiness in their lives. She offers couples and marriage counselling via Skype and appointments face to face.
Margie has been working in the field of relationships and communication for 10 years. She is a trained lawyer and counsellor who is passionate about helping people live by their values and integrity. She brings a wealth of experience to marriage and family counselling both from professional training in a wide range of modalities and personal experience.