I’m writing this month about LOVE! In my last blog, I offered a specific dialogue process to help couples with creating erotic and connecting moments with your partner. In these next two posts, I want to share some tools that you can use to prepare yourself and your relationship to maximize this dialogue process. Humans don’t really function like movie stars sexually–We don’t often turn on and turn off quickly or easily, especially in longer term committed relationships. Why is that, you might ask? Because when we coexist in enduring relationships, we have patterns that build up over time and often obscure how we feel in our own bodies and within our relationship.
As a couples therapist in Washington DC, I work with partners to connect with their partners more openly and authentically. I look for blocks and negative patterns, and I help couples identify how these patterns manifest in the relationship especially in the language that they use with each other on a daily basis. You know that same old fight that you keep having with your partner? In couples sessions, we use that fight–which is often a verbatim repeated argument for most couples–to begin to name the cycle, identify the triggers in both action and statements, and begin to reframe the cycle as something that is working against their human imperfect efforts at connection. As we process the emotion that lives in that fight, we strive to “team up” together against that fight or pattern vs. against each other, especially in how we talk with each other.
One primary tool is to notice use of deficit language and abundant language in your conversations with your partner. Most of us are raised or socialized to think and talk in terms of deficits—we worry about “not being good enough,” “not having enough,” not doing enough,” etc. Brene’ Brown terms this the scarcity mindset [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XTcB1evO8c].
Deficit language includes leading with the negative or a criticism (i.e. “you didn’t:….” “why don’t you?)–it is often past or future-focused. Abundant language rests in the now–it celebrates, invites, reflects and affirms (i.e. “so what you are saying is….”, “did I get it?” “is there more?”). [These are the three key questions in Harville Hendrix’s Imago Dialogue process https://harvilleandhelen.com/]. **Deficit language flows from fear, yet it is maintained by habit; abundant language promotes openness and connection, and is maintained by intention.**
I get it, this is easier said than done. This is a hard one for me! Yet, it does work~Try just one day or hour of this with your partner–or even 10 minutes. See how it helps you feel more open and ready for love.