I see many stuck couples in my couples’ therapy practice in Cheadle. Why are many of them stuck?
They’re focusing on the wrong thing
The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make In Your Relationship
The single biggest mistake you can make in your relationship is to focus on the content – the who said what, when, etc and ignore the process – the Space-Between.
It‘s easy to get caught up in your own stuff, forcing your point home if you don’t think your partner is getting it. When you do that, you miss the most important thing. THEM
If you behave this way, you’re not taking care of them. You’re not keeping the Space-Between sacred.
Imagine. Between you and your beloved there’s a serene, gently flowing river. The water is clear, bringing life to everything it touches.
This river is sacred.
When you are mean to your partner, when you talk out of turn or don’t show respect, the water becomes polluted.
The more polluted the river becomes, the harder it is to clean it up.
When the river becomes polluted, you are both affected. Your children grow up in the Space-Between, this pollution impacts them too.
Your responsibility is to be the safest partner possible and take care of that space. You both need to treat the Space-Between as sacred.
Looking After The Space-Between
In my last post I talked about The Relationship Spiral. How we can do things without really thinking how they affect our relationship.
Honouring the Space-Between is very much a part of ‘doing the work’, coming off autopilot and consciously doing things to help your relationship.
5 Easy Ways To Look After The Space-Between
Be Nice! Yup, it’s a simple one. You know when you’re itching to say that sarcastic thing to your partner because they’ve annoyed you? Don’t.
If it’s a little thing, once you’ve given yourself a few moments your feelings will pass. Get back into connection. Let them off the hook.
If it’s a bigger thing that you will struggle to let go of, talk to them later once you have settled yourself.
Use Imago dialogue for this process to make it a safe way to have this conversation. It’s a great way to look after the Space-Between.
Tell your partner you love them. Do it every day. Do it like you mean it. Look at them when you say it so they really get that you mean it.
Tell your partner the things you appreciate about them. This could be things they’ve done for you or just more general things that you love about them.
“I think you’re sexy,” “I love how kind you are,” “I really appreciate how you took care of Little Jimmy today when he was upset.” Whatever it is, tell them.
Tune in. Ask your partner how they are during the day and stop and listen to the answer. Don’t make it about you, focus on them.
(For the men – don’t try to problem solve, that’s not what your other half wants. Just listen. Validate their experience. Empathise.)
Have fun. It’s easy on autopilot to pay less attention to your partner. Make sure you’re going out and having a laugh with your partner. You’re spending time together.
If you have children, get a babysitter or take them with you.
Going out can be free. Go for a walk together in the local park, watch Netflix and have a cuddle. Whatever it is – pay attention to them.
Process Not Content
Make the relationship safe for your partner. If you make the relationship emotionally safe, your partner can drop their self-protective behaviours.
Your task is to improve the quality of the experience between you and your partner.
The single biggest mistake in a relationship is focusing on what you are saying, not how you are saying it.
Pay attention to the Space-Between.
Need Help In Your Relationship?
If you are feeling stuck in your relationship and need help, then there are a few ways in which I can support you.
The “Getting The Love You Want” weekend workshops are a quick, non-therapy way of getting your head around how to be with your partner differently and enhancing love and connection.
Work with me. I offer couples therapy at my office in Cheadle, Cheshire (it’s Stockport, but we like to pretend we’re posh).
You could come on a two day couples therapy intensive. This might fit you better if you are coming from a long distance, or you’re keen to get stuck in and pull yourselves out of an uncomfortable rut.
Either way, contact me on 07966 390857 or fill in my contact form here.
Read The Book
Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt have written a book, specifically on the Space-Between. You can find it on amazon here (affiliate link).