This week on our new podcast, Spilling the Thera-Tea, Jess and I interviewed our very own couples’ counseling expert at KDM Counseling Group, AnnLee Allen. We were excited to get into the nitty-gritty of an area of therapy about which we all feel passionate. It is overwhelmingly clear that more couples need help navigating difficult relationships and one key takeaway is that couples stop focusing on connecting with each other. Connection is KEY.
In the world today, we have a grandiose idea of what connection with our partner should look like. Expensive dinners, romantic getaways, and Instagram-worthy snaps of the beautiful new right-hand ring that was gifted on a sunset cruise. The reality is that true, meaningful, worthwhile, and relationship-affirming connection happens in the smaller day-to-day moments of our normal lives. The grand gestures are fabulous – but they aren’t the glue that keeps a relationship together.
Take a moment and ask yourself (and your partner), what are some of the most meaningful moments of connection you can remember having? You will probably be surprised that they are often little flashes that you don’t even remember happening. The time your partner offered to bring their lawnmower over to help with your lawn when you were overwhelmed with work? The 17-hour road trip you took after knowing each other only two months. Or when they bought you a tiny Christmas tree for your new apartment. It could be as simple as the time you discovered you both loved the same out-of-the-way sushi joint.
Why do we stop doing small things to connect with the person we love? And when did we stop seeing the positive things our mates are doing to connect with us. John Gottman, Grand Poohbah of all things couples’ counseling, talks about this when he explains building love maps. This means intentionally building a friendship with your partner on an intimate level. Continuing to get to know them.
Connection means knowing each other’s inner world. Continue talking about what you value, goals that haven’t been achieved yet, and failures that still upset you. Take turns asking each other questions that will lead to meaningful conversation and thus better connection. The goal is to always be learning and developing greater personal insight into each other’s life and world.
Love, passion, and connection are cultivated in the tiny, sometimes seemingly insignificant, moments of life.