How to Ensure Your Relationship is the Safest Place for Both of You
Months ago, you likely never imagined your sense of safety and security would be rocked the way it’s been by COVID-19. The pandemic has changed us and injected a worrisome sense that there’s nowhere in the world to feel comforted and in control.
But, for those of us with partners, there is a place to find emotional shelter. Weathering bad news and making our foggy way forward can be a much less disquieting process if you work as a team. Your relationship can become trustworthy and soothing, a safe place you both need now and long after the pandemic fades.
How can you ensure that you both feel safe and sound together?
Accept that Your Safety Might Feel Different from Their Safety
Many couples have different feelings about what is safe and what isn’t. Resist the urge, especially now, to read each other’s minds.
What felt safe to you or your partner a year ago may not hold up under the current circumstances. Don’t guess at what each other wants or needs. Commit to checking in with yourselves individually so that you can clearly articulate what makes you feel heard, emotionally respected, and appreciated.
Then, make time to talk through it all. No one feels safe in any situation without clear and honest direction.
Right now, we all feel vulnerable and uncertain. Some of us express our concerns openly, others have our guards up. It may be that way at home too. Yet, in an intimate connection, guarding yourselves against each other stifles the flow of comfort and affection you seek.
Don’t let the outside world keep you from the patient interaction, honest sharing, and willing responsiveness that makes vulnerability and safe communication possible.
Ensure A Safe Relationship with Active Listening, Empathy, and Understanding
Lean In and Listen Well
Feeling safe in a relationship is, in large part, due to how well we feel heard. We want to know that the people we care about are attentive and interested in our thoughts and emotions. We aren’t safe to share our fears, grievances, and stressors if the other person is distracted or consumed with their own concerns.
Active listening, as a relationship practice, is a powerful way to communicate that you care to be more than passively present. By paying close attention to what your partner says and how they say it, you start to recognize and respond to the emotions behind the words.
As you listen to each other, mutual feedback fuels a deeper emotional connection. The idea is to reflect and repeat what you’re hearing in your own words. In effect, you assure each other that you’re connected and in those conversational moments together.
The flow of conversation and problem-solving becomes more accurate, productive, and harmonious.
Let Empathy Intimately Link You
Building on your improved way of listening to each other, work at deepening your awareness of each other’s feelings. Essentially, try to share your partner’s emotions on a level beyond just acknowledgment. Empathize. Commit to linking your emotions to theirs.
Empathizing with your partner involves a willingness to do the following:
Become more self-aware
Empathy is possible when we acknowledge your own internal programming. Recognize how your thoughts, needs, and beliefs might affect your ability to listen and connect meaningfully.
Make a habit of humility
Try to see your partner as a human being in need of patience, grace, and forgiveness daily. Just like you, they react to the state of the world well one day and not-so-well the next. Part of creating a safe place is making in a place where you can compassionately put yourselves in each other’s shoes.
Regardless of how long you’ve been together, there is always more to know and lean. Wonder and curiosity are important factors for expanding empathy and ensuring a safe relationship. When your partner knows that you want to know them deeply on an emotional level, they feel more secure in your interest and satisfaction.
Offer Understanding without the Pressure to Comply, Agree, or Surrender
The beauty of a safe relationship is that both partners can be themselves, commit to their own opinions, and still enjoy a level of respectful, reliable understanding.
COVID-19 has ushered in an era of division and debate in many households. Your relationship may be feeling the strain. That’s okay if you resolve that understanding each other and protecting your connection is a top priority.
Now more than ever is time to share your thoughts on what’s going on. Listen to each other’s ideas, worries, and solutions. Remain open-minded and work at being positive to ensure that you hear all that your partner wants to share.
Discuss the fact that though you may not agree on all points, you understand how and why you feel what you feel. Reassure each other that you are reassuringly available to hear each other out. Appreciate each other’s opinions and give each other room to explore and evolve without judgment.
Counseling Can Help You Create a Safer Connection
There is any number of reasons feeling safe in your relationship might feel difficult right now. The pandemic may be a primary factor. Or it may simply be exacerbating a long-standing problem.
Whatever the case, there is no shame in wanting to feel as safe together as possible. And there is no shame in seeking help to reach your goal.
Counseling can help. I’m here for support and guidance. Please read more about Couples Counseling and reach out soon for a consultation.