In view of our human society there is so many personality types, diversity in life experiences and backgrounds; cultural differences from family values and beliefs to religious and ethnic influences. It is sometimes amazing how different we find ourselves to be, yet in the pattern of DNA, we are 80% the same, loosely defined. That 10% difference could, genetically speaking explain some of the “why” to what makes us respond or function and experience same emotions differently.
However, not being a scientist, I would like to take the opportunity to invite you to explore with me, avenues that may have a more predominant meaning to us, in relating to one another. In sharing personal thoughts, ideas, insights and individual’s experiences or testimonies, if I need to reference them, then names and locations are altered in this article to protect the privacy of those mentioned. I will also note this article has content that may be considered sensitive material and of certain topics to some readers, however, note understanding this is for educational purposes and links with resources are provided for further clarity and definition of terminology and awareness of intention by the author.
What I am about to embark on with you are aspects of various topic’s that arise in communication, relating to one another and the challenges we tend to repeatedly come across in day to day relationships and our intimate ones as well. As these are events that transpire through out our human development, these will not necessarily appear new to you. In fact, I will be referring to others that have also broached parts of these topics as well. The authors I may refer to, or various articles, please follow the links that are highlighted for additional referencing. My goal is to continue to spark new insight and additional views that may be supportive in what you may be seeking for at this time; as you wouldn’t be reading now, even if it were just for curiosities’ sake.
Let us move forward to the first thought on ways to better understand the expressions of one another and how to demonstrate in a manner that is well received by each other.
1. Speaking words of care, love, appreciation is fulfilling for many; as positive and kind words are always preferred over words of criticism, judgment or insults. However, it may not be the only way that you or your partner (even friends, family or coworkers) respond and thus choose to reciprocate most willingly. The above is an example of “Words of Affirmation” that can be well defined in the book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Another individual that has reviewed and placed nicely, examples and descriptions of acknowledging how to communicate better to one another in this manner is Oscar S. Uzoma published on Associate Content. Instead of going at great lengths to redefine what has already been well said, I invite you to explore the information with the above authors. I would place emphasis upon the importance of acknowledging these tools when our internal human desire is to be loved, heard, understood and respected.
2. Compromise is another facet that helps each of us gain, and support our loved ones to feeling fulfilled as well. When both or all parties come together in this manner it also demonstrates the courage and strength of ones willingness to be a part of a relationship verses trying to dictate or control the relationship process. It acknowledges there is another involved and validates both as being an important part of the process and demonstrates appreciation of what each brings in supporting a relationship. We can see how this increases the depth of intimacy, as this practice draws one another close because of the affirmation of trust in words and action. Sherry Holetzky expresses this well, even to say in the context of cooperation. Taking it a step further, I believe that “cooperation” is in fact the outcome we are looking for. In the context of compromise, some may feel it is merely “giving something up” that feels undesirable; In other words, a sacrifice to keep the peace. Let it be understood that this is not about “sacrifice” in that context, especially since we associate this with a negative and unpleasant feeling.
In the spirit of cooperation, each individual makes a decision to some change (if the circumstance requires) with the thought in mind of reaching a “common or joint” goal. So once you have established what the joint goal (ex: both want a new home, car, children or lowering debts, and having a better way of expressing care, love or respect towards each other) is, than the individual perspective and emotions naturally change from a fear of sacrifice to recapping a desired outcome.
Change then becomes easy when it is not attached to fear, doubt or manipulation. Cooperative thinking supports individual growth, demonstrates love and encourages strength and trust in your relationship verses working against each other on how to achieve mutual goals or sabotaging the desire & goals of your loved one. This process also aids in supporting your spouse in a goal that may not be directly related to you, but gives you the opportunity to actively demonstrate your support and encouragement by providing a trustworthy and safe environment for your partner to share concern and develop further strength, courage or insight. For example: your spouse is embarking on a new career, job or promotion or may be working on health issues.
This brings us to other aspects of relating to one another. Please join me in further exploration.
3. As we see the importance of acknowledging each others strengths and being an encouragement and support to each others weaknesses or challenges in becoming strong as a “team” in our relationships, the next step we are describing is appreciation and respect. How do you express appreciation and respect of and to your partner? How do you recognize that appreciation and respect have been acknowledged or expressed to you? One manner is to know yourself and take the time to understand your partner. I would refer you back to the “Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman at this point. Another example has been given by Ronyea on Associate Content.
Well spoken is the statement to respect your partners’ position. In other words, the role that your partner has taken on in your relationship, life, work, etc. and the time, gifts, efforts and abilities your loved one offers within the relationship.
There is an old adage that says, “Walk a mile in another’s moccasins’ (shoes).” In other words, imagine what it is like to experience their life and how you may also feel as about it, before judging, criticizing, making fun or insulting the life, experience, behaviors or thoughts of another. It is an expression of learning and demonstrating compassion, understanding and acknowledgement. All of which we seek in our own lives, therefore, why would we desire to demonstrate to another any less than what we want to receive in return? That is just food for thought.
Continuing on, as we desire to build, strengthen and ensure a lasting, loving and respectful relationship, let’s embark on a few tools that may support this desire for us. Some basics can be sharing like interests, supporting the interests of your partner even when they are not your own and creating specific steps in your relationship that put deliberate emphasis on re-affirming each other, building and supporting the foundation of trust and communication with each other. Reading together, materials that support relationship growth, as described by Dayle Turner can be effective and direct both your attention to mutual goals.
1. One tool that is effective and recognizes the courage and strength in binding a relationship closer is the willingness for both individuals to risk vulnerability and thinking they are weak or insecure to share inner feelings, thoughts, dreams, experiences or concerns with your mate. Trust is a vital component to securing and maintaining a healthy and enjoyable relationship.
There are two aspects to developing at this level that is required by you and your partner. One is creating the secure environment for your partner; ensuring that you are trustworthy -that you want to be trusted and can be by demonstration and your words of affirmation. You can do this by keeping an open mind to what your partner is sharing; by not prejudging, criticizing, making fun of or later using against them in the heat of your own anger or disappointment, of what is being shared and by reaffirming understanding of the underlying emotion that may not necessarily be verbalized but is unspoken. Next, keep this between the two of you; Period. Respect each others private times emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. You are supporting and depending upon each other to value and respect very intimate parts of your being, sharing those private moments with anyone outside your relationship violates that sense of trust. A primary key is listening.
The other aspect is just taking the risk. Be willing to open that private part of yourself to your partner. This also demonstrates that you see them as trustworthy and you want to build trust between you. You demonstrate value of your relationship, your view of their character and affirm your desire to be close to your mate; after all you did choose to be with them for a reason in the first place, so keep this relationship as valuable to you now as it felt in the beginning and deepen its sense of worth with the tools you already have within you -these are just reminders.
2. We are going to take this one step further. As the definition of intimacy in the dictionary briefly defined is feeling closeness, familiarity, affection, belonging and/or togetherness. This is a demonstration of intimacy as defined above. In addition there is also a deep sense of intimacy in your sexual demonstration of love with your partner. This can be just affirming and feel just as vulnerable, if not more so, in sharing love making and sexual intimacy. In this act and expression becomes vital to demonstrate “mutual” respect, trust and the tool of effective listening.
Of many challenges today that we encounter as a society and there is a need to reestablish the proper boundaries and communication back into the relationship and keys to healthy intimacy for consenting adults. The challenge we face and need to recognize is the desensitizing of the act to mere animalistic behavior and falsely romanticizing the true use of control, manipulation and coercion as an act or demonstration of relating love, care or the experience of real intimacy. Sense you are alone or reading this with your trusted partner, it is safe for us to acknowledge our desire for the internal closeness that we seek from one another. This is not to be feared or viewed as a weakness as we may have began to see it for what ever means. If by past experience the concern is being “hurt” in some way, understand that a means of releasing that pain is to recognize what you learned that you do not want and how to express yourself more effectively to be understood what you do desire.
An example of how we allow ourselves to be desensitized to an act of intimacy that should be treated with great respect and regard with our own emotions and bodies as a strong means to express and demonstrate affection, closeness and love, as well as to experience it with another that we seek to be with or connect with a deepest sense of the meaning, has been well described by Jonathan McLelland in his article “Our Obsession With Sex and Orgasms is the Reason for Our Lack of Love.”
An unfortunate event that has been occurring in our society in the exploration of sexuality and attempts to “teach” each other what to do to please or get pleased sexually is the demonstrations that border dangerously close to sexual assault, manipulation and coercion. Perhaps due to the way we use the English language, it can easily be over looked, as well as the appeal to find satisfaction in way that, for so many years, we didn’t dare approach the subject. However, a way to possibly have better enlightenment and understanding is to first define the meanings and go from there.
Let us begin with the description of sexual assault, as we know that none of us would want to deliberately harm another, especially the one that you love or for a mere moment of brief genital satisfaction at the cost of permanently harming and evening destroying your relationship.
Sexual assault is loosely defined as any act that is sexual in nature and is done towards, upon or against a non-consenting individual. I understand that some make a viable debate such as, “well, s/he did consent because we were doing this act & s/he didn’t stop me or indicated by sound, word or not pushing away when I proceeded with what I wanted to do.” That can be confusing or is it really? Let’s openly review some more together and see what we come up with, shall we.
That would bring us to investigate what it means to consent and/or violate. To violate is described as breaking a promise or to disregard; to defile or harm either property/person or qualities which is considered sacred or to disturb improperly. Okay, so that does bring a bit more light on the subject. So then we ask ourselves, “Did my partner at any time express a dislike for any act I wanted to do or have done?” This would clearly include the sharing of prior experiences that were not appreciated, or were harmful or hurtful; it would include being pushed away regardless if it was extreme force or not; it would include being told verbally or in writing what s/he does or does not like; and it would include what is not said, even by staying away from times a would attempt these acts but repeating appreciation for what s/he does like.
Well, now we can see and hear more clearly that to continue to pursue my own desire and ignore what has been expressed to me, is indeed a violation and disregarding their rights, boundaries, body and emotions. I know that I would not want to be disregarded with anything that I felt was my personal boundaries or that I felt was hurtful or wrong for my body either. Here we can easily recognize that how we chose to treat another, and by continual disregard, then becomes a violation and assault. So we ask ourselves, do I really want to hurt the one that I love? And if I am truly in doubt what my partner does or does not like or would be willing or not to explore, what would I do? I would ask clearly, without prejudging or condemning the possible response. After all, my goal is to create a safe, trustworthy environment that we both can enjoy and demonstrate love to and with each other.
Another degree of clarity that may be needed is to recognize that using any form of manipulation or coercion, which includes the play of emotions and physical responses of your partner (such as doing to or for them what they do enjoy and/or verbally affirming the same and then adding your desired acts and seeking consent while “moving” into what you want) to get your “consent” and justify your actions as being okay -is still a form of violation. This act is merely a tactic to use a person’s vulnerability and their desire to experience pleasure and love with you against them, thereby breaking trust in disregarding and disrespecting his/her expressed needs, values and boundaries. It cannot be justified by any means and carries the same weight of harm that direct and obvious assault does; and many times even deeper harm, as it usually transpires with a mate that an individual wanted to be with and trusted. That is the sadness that can develop and the quick breakdown of positive experiences in any relationship. Exploration as to how our society has embraced a harmful act by pretending there is value to it can be observed in Jonathan McLelland’s articles, and “Mistaking Lust for Love.”
In our goal to understand and connect more closely with each other some other tools that may support our desire is reading together, praying together, and apply our various relationship keys and working on intimacy, learning how to communicate our needs clearly and hear our partners’ expressions, how to argue or disagree effectively and importantly be honest, open and promote the trust you want in your joint efforts to growing your ideal relationship.
Lastly, the description of consent states to be of the same mind or opinion or to approve. We may feel at times that to really understand each other feels extremely difficult. Sometimes the more the two of you differ in likes, dislikes, belief and values; the greater this challenge may feel or appear. However, another key is genuine effort. When you apply these tools, offer openness and willingness and define your values and boundaries to each other -there is room to grow, change, support, appreciate, value and love each other for whom and what you are as individuals and as a couple.
Be kind to yourself, in your heart, mind and actions and you will find it easier to do the same towards others. If your thoughts and mind are more frequently on what could go wrong, or how bad you had it in your past and how you aren’t going to let that happen again -chances are greater that regardless of what transpires between you and your partner now, you will view it as something negative and find ways to find fault even with good (such as, “this looks too good, so there must be a hidden agenda,” or “I never had my needs filled with this other situation, so I will make sure I get what I deserve this time”). It is almost too easy to “taint” our own vision of what is happening now, when we close our minds and hearts to what we really want (to love, be loved, appreciated, etc) and replace it with repetitive thoughts of what can go wrong or replay a past that is finished. Deal with it, yes -by sharing your concerns with your partner so they can support and clarify what is happening now. Then you find you can let go or the idea/thought lets go of you and the hurt from your past allows you to move forward and get on with the present and future.
When it seems a greater challenge, such as in the cases of rape victims or emotional disassociation from years of negative experiences or dissatisfaction, you both may find it strengthening to your relationship to get counseling individually and together. You then may learn how to relate and be a support to healing, strengthen the relationship with your trust building and move beyond what you feel clouds your perspective of your present situation so you may feel more fulfilled and safe to trust your partner.
One more little tidbit, in light of being kind to yourself and self healing to improve present events: In the book “Living Rich Now” (may be found at www.richdreams.com) with Jillian Coleman Wheeler, a teleseminar eBook by Tom L. Pauley and Penelope J. Pauley (father/daughter author team) of RichDreams, Inc. published in 2005, Jillian describes an exercise that uses visualization to guide the healing process of past experiences hurts and find your internal will, desire to explore and release unnecessary or learned fears. Her example is working with a three year old child concept of self, though detached from the experience and simply observing as your present adult self. The exercise, when applied and possibly repeated can be quite effective in the process of clarifying, understanding and letting go of old issues. Her purpose here, is one that aids individuals of beliefs in lack of personal worth or value in association with their present experiences of holding this old false belief and therefore not recognizing opportunities and lacking courage to take small risks (aka: a new job, position, business venture, etc) in order to achieve there desired goals of success and improved finances. This same concept may be applied to relationships and personal development for better living.
Rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) is also another tool useful for those who may feel more challenged with very strong negative emotions or psychological disturbances that affect their ability to function daily as desired or in their relationships. As quoted from the Wikipedia, “According to REBT, if a person’s evaluative B, belief about the A, activating event is rigid, absolutistic and dysfunctional, the C, the emotional and behavioral consequence, is likely to be self-defeating and destructive. Alternatively, if a person’s evaluative B, belief is preferential, flexible and constructive, the C, the emotional and behavioral consequence is likely to be self-helping and constructive.”
Blessings on your life journey together.