Message from Leslie at the Institute for Empowering Communication
I was in a warm friendly environment recently with a couple of old friends and a couple of new friends, talking about NVC, communication and our life partners.
Despite the friendly banter about many subjects, we also joked about the less than wonderful communication with our life partners. One member of the group, I’ll call her Joan, joked about relationship issues with her life partner with consequences to a child and other family, which I considered to be very serious.
I was shocked that Joan was living with as much pain and unhappiness as she was. I wanted to contribute to her well being in some way. I was silent, but for several minutes I had a busy brain, mulling over what her options were, thinking of paths she had not yet explored to try to connect with her partner, to be heard, and how to get to more equality with her partner in sharing the job of caring for those in their family. . .when I caught myself. She had not asked for support or advice even though I’d been working on a list of ideas!
I remembered that I had a choice between two roles here, to be an empathic presence for her and/or to connect to my own feelings and needs. So I put my busy brain on hold, and started to connect with what was alive in me.
My observation: All five of us had shared pain about our relationships with our life partners. I had heard evidence from all of us, how difficult it is to get to a place of love and sustain it.
I started to connect to my longing. I was longing for us to value the precious needs of our partner and to find ways we can joyfully meet those needs, and at the same time vulnerably ask our partners to help make our lives wonderful. I wondered how we could get to that depth of communication that yields a full, beautiful and gleaming love partnership.
Feelings wiggled in: I felt a deep sadness overtake me when I dwelt with the pain we had only obliquely expressed in the group.
I spoke: I’m feeling really sad, thinking about the depth of our longing in our relationships and the difficulty we have all expressed getting to the place of emotional intimacy, trust and being heard in our relationships. My eyes were a little wet.
There was a pause, a silence for about 5 seconds.
Joan began speaking about wanting more trust with her partner. Tears came to her eyes. She began to get in touch with her disappointment.
After our gathering disbanded, I reflected on the possibility that I was the stimulus that allowed Joan to connect with her pain. I was deeply heartened to recognize that being self-connected is not only a gift to oneself, but can be a gift to others in a profound life-giving way.
Institute for Empowering Communication