Do you ever feel disconnected from your partner? Like you have needs that do not get fulfilled and you've tried to express this but somehow, the message doesn't get across? Or maybe you are on the receiving end of a frustrated partner.

We often mistake change in a relationship as dependant on only one partner. Change and growth can only come about when couples experience frequent and fluid exchanges between them. When couples give and receive freely and with ease, they experience a richer more fulfilling relationship.

In unhealthy exchanges, couples feel stuck with each other, disconnected and stunted. This is usually evident when the focus remains on blaming each other, generalizing problems and repeating patterns. When couples experience healthy exchanges, they feel deep connection, more alive, more aware and appreciated. It is the process of healthy exchange that will, in turn, change both partners.

Healthy exchange involves knowing that in your separateness you each bring unique and valuable differences to the relationship. Did you know that you actually need each other's differences to help each other grow? We all have limited capacities and experiences. When we allow our partners to express their unique truth, we gain access to new, greater possibilities.

So how do you create the fluid exchange of giving and receiving with each other? In the text, On Intimate Ground (1994), Richard and Antra Borofsky provide the following guideline:

• Being Present - Isn't it true that exchanges can only occur in the present? You cannot have an exchange in the past or in the future. Yet, couples often lose their present-centered awareness. Stay grounded and aware of how you feel, moment to moment, here and now. Stay in that space and express your present, personal experience. To help you practice, take turns exchanging sentences beginning with the words "Right now...".

• Awareness - Pay attention to the process of giving and receiving. Notice how you are actually relating in the present (as opposed to thinking about the relationship). Be aware, not only of yourself, but also of your partner and the exchange between self and other. How's it going?

• Shared Responsibility - Both partners must do their part in order to have a successful relationship. When you hold yourself and your partner equally responsible, you greatly reduce the risk of falling into power struggles. Rather than focus on blaming, ask yourself, "How do I contribute to this?"

• Practice - Mastering the art of giving and receiving takes practice. If you become flustered, take a break, take a breath and try again. You can only gain from paying attention, applying what works and abandoning what keeps you stuck.

The practice and process of giving and receiving is where intimate bonding occurs. Sharing your true ideas, thoughts, feelings and reactions becomes a gift that you give to one another.

Author's Bio: 

Carolynn Aristone, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and a psychotherapist. She is the founder of Live Fully Counseling located in Cherry Hill, NJ. As a therapist and yoga educator, Carolynn helps individuals and couples create intimate connections and improved relationships - physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually. For more information, please call 856.577.5515 or visit the website at www.livefullycounseling.com