1. Pay attention and Assume the Position
When we talk about attention, we’re talking about ‘undivided attention’, which means, turn off the television, put down your electronic devices, and “assume the position”: sit across from your partner, face them, legs and arms uncrossed, while maintaining unbroken eye contact for 2 minutes a day. As 85% of communication is non-verbal, when you are sitting or standing across the room from your partner, there is disconnection. When your legs or arms are crossed, you’re sending the message that you are not open to the conversation or to connection. When you avert your eyes, you are disconnecting from your partner. By assuming the position, you are sending a strong message that what your partner has to say is important to you, that they are important to you, and most importantly, that you care about them. At first, it may feel a bit awkward and unnatural, but it’s all about learning. The more you practice, the easier and more natural it will become.
2. Hold Hands
Once you and your partner become comfortable with this practice, you can change your seating positions to be even more connected. Sit on the couch together, close enough that your legs touch, and hold hands. When you hold hands, there is a strong feeling of affection, attention, and love. You can also use this strategy when resolving conflict as it acts as a reminder that despite the fact that you are upset with each other in that moment, there is such a strong foundation of love and affection. It works as a disarmer by sending the message that even though we may feel hurt and disconnected in that situation, we love each other, and will work it out.
3. Take a Time-Out
When you fight, remember what you have learned by connecting to each other on this level. Sometimes the emotions are too high to discuss conflicts that arise and both partners need time to breath and control their emotions to understand why each person is truly upset. Ask yourself, what have you done to cause pain and disconnection with the person you love? This is truly the most important part of the process because when emotions are high, there is no clarity; only emotions reacting to emotions. So a time-out is needed. But whenever possible, try to remain holding hands while you are individually processing. Once you let go, there is risk of greater disconnection and elongated pain. Make no mistake, this is no easy exercise. It requires inner strength on both sides to stay connected, but it works.