Emotional Safety and Healing Your Relationship
I have worked with many couples over the years, and have seen them in some very difficult and painful times. All relationships have conflict, and for the health of the relationship, it's highly important to know how to effectively talk with each other and find a common ground. In order to heal a fractured or broken relationship, I often speak about the need for creating a space of emotional safety with your partner(s).
Emotional safety, or lack thereof, is based on the shared emotional environment in which you co-exist. There are conditions that help you feel safe to be vulnerable and be yourself with your partner through the good and hard times in life. You're able to each be your own individual with different needs, tastes and preferences without feeling pressure to change from your partner. At the same time, you build a relationship that seeks closeness and compromise as you merge your lives together.
It's both the way you each communicate with each other and the energy you bring with you, that determines how safe you feel.
What are the pollutants that are adding to your heated arguments?
lacking empathy or concern for your partner's needs
an unwillingness to listen to and validate your partner's perspective as demonstrated by defensiveness
use of sarcasm, biting 'humor' or rolling eyes to get your point across
use of manipulative or intimidating tactics to shut down your partner
a need to be proven 'right' in most/ all disagreements
an inability to be humble and look at your contribution to the problem
an unwillingness to respect differences in time to process a disagreement; some process what they want to say much quicker than their partner who needs time to figure out where they stand on the issues
The goal is not to agree on everything, but it's important that both people feel safe and respected as they share their point of view. As children seek safety with their parents, or students seek safety in their schools, healing a damaged relationship starts when we provide and maintain emotional safety in our relationship(s).