To truly be there for your partner, you need to be emotionally attuned to him or her, while staying solid in your sense of self -- my own feelings, my own body sensations, my own thoughts and perceptions. A healthy relationship is akin to a well-built bridge: it moves; it sways, flattens, contracts, adjusting to changing conditions; all the while the foundation is solid and resilient.
This seems to be a bit difficult to understand, much less to know how to do. We have this huge cultural myth hanging over us -- Don't be dependent or needy. The truth is that we need to be inter-dependent, and needing others in healthy ways is, well, healthy. Most of us want to be needed, too. Not overly so, but needed.
Yet many of us were taught, consciously and unconsciously that our Self is the reflection of our caregiver(s), and somehow we're not supposed to be separate. So perhaps, when one of you gets triggered (or moody), the other person takes on the same feelings since you were not supposed to have your own feelings, voice, perception, and so on. That's just the way you are supposed to be with your partner.
What does relationship resiliency look like? Sometimes you come further across the bridge to support your partner, other times he comes further across. Ebb and flow. This creates a working bridge, a secure attachment; attunement, I know you've got my back, I seek you out for comfort and sex, our bridge is the gateway to our home as a safe haven that gives us what we each need to go out into the world.
Here are a couple of examples of a non-resilient bridge:
-If, based on my earlier life experiences, I feel anxious about the attachment we have, and I don't trust that your span will reach far enough across, or only be there some of the time (i.e. can you hold me in all my various facets?), then I can't relax into our inter-dependence. I wonder if I can count on you.
-Or, if my life experience has taught me that people are not available, then I will be avoidant; I'll pull away and not hold up my part of the bridge and you will be hanging out over the water at times.
So what do you want your bridge to look like? What does each land-based foundation look like? Does your span cross a stream, a river, a lake, a bay?
If you're ready to create your own bridge as a couple, or to strengthen the foundations, give me a call . . .