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Moms’ Romantic Reconnection Part 2

Welcome, moms who have been tirelessly juggling the roles of caregiver, chauffeur, homemaker, and perhaps holding down a full-time job. It's easy to lose sight of yourself amidst the chaos of family life, isn't it? The truth is, many have found themselves in the same boat, so let's cast aside any lingering guilt or shame. Instead, let's embark on a journey of rediscovery, starting right here. Rediscovering yourself is the first step towards rekindling the connection with your partner. As you reconnect with who you are and what you desire, you'll find it easier to bridge the gap that may have formed in your relationship. Reconnecting with your partner isn't an overnight feat; it's a gradual process of reclaiming your shared space in the midst of life's whirlwind. Together, we'll navigate this path with patience and purpose, exploring techniques to nurture those vital connections that sustain us. Are you ready to carve out some time for yourself and your relationship? Let's begin.


In part 1, we discussed that every important journey begins with clarity. Knowing where you want to go and why needs to be developed first. In relationships, this means locking in your vision of how you see your relationship 5, 10, or 20+ years down the road. The goal is to begin to feel what living that future life will be like. If you are struggling with getting clarity, you are not alone. Yet, this is not just a good idea; it’s the keystone to transformation.

Once you have that vision locked down, you are ready to start trying out some tools to help you reconnect. Today we will touch on the power of observation, preempting self-sabotaging behaviors that trigger both you and your partner, empathy for yourself and your partner, self-confrontation, and the importance of a soft startup to reengage.


1. Become a Fascinated Anthropologist

Now that you have your vision, your current old patterns, routines, and habits that conflict with your new vision will become visible. Each time you do something that conflicts with your new vision, you will begin to feel dissonance. For now, this feeling of dissonance is a good thing. There’s an old saying, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. For the next 48 hours, without any judgment, guilt, or shame, observe what you are saying, doing, and feeling with a curious heart. Every time you feel that dissonance, simply make a hash mark in your journal. You can try to keep track in your mind, but it’s helpful to write it down. Can you think of one thing that is reducing your bid for connection?


2. Build Empathy and Let Go of Guilt or Shame

There are two parts to this process. The first part is for you, and the second is for reconnecting with your partner. You were born with a pure, beautiful essence that has never left you. Throughout your life, this light may have been dimmed by negative messages from others or by being treated disrespectfully. Over time, you may have begun to believe these lies. As a result, you likely developed coping mechanisms such as avoiding issues, avoiding people, staying quiet, or becoming passive-aggressive. These negative thoughts and behaviors have swirled around your inner light, dimming it to others and perhaps even to yourself, lowering your sense of self-worth and wellbeing. While these coping strategies were necessary in the past, today they no longer serve you.


As you feel the dissonance whenever your behaviors diverge from your new vision, take a deep breath and express gratitude to your inner child for developing those old coping mechanisms. Then, extend empathy and unconditional love to yourself, acknowledging that you did the best you could with the resources available to you at the time. Now, it’s time to release those old patterns and create new ones that align with your vision. Visualization can be immensely helpful in working through and releasing guilt and shame for past ways of being. If you can do this for yourself, you will be ready to take the next step forward.


Have you ever heard the expression that you can only love others to the extent that you love yourself? Or this one: how we do one thing is how we do everything. Once you learn to give yourself empathy and love unconditionally, despite your flaws, it becomes possible to extend that same love to others, including your partner. Remember, they too were born with a beautiful, perfect essence. When they say something unkind, avoid you, or become passive-aggressive, recognize that these are their own coping mechanisms protecting their scared inner child. It’s easy to lose sight of our partner’s pure essence when their habits obscure the goodness within them. We tend to see only their defensive behaviors or coping strategies instead of their inner light.


When trying to connect with your partner and you sense that dissonance as they switch into fight-or-flight mode, take a deep breath and look for their inner child. Visualize your partner’s 4-year-old self. One breath is all it takes to see past their poor behavior and speak directly to their higher and best self, which is still inside, waiting to be seen and loved.

I understand that for some, this may seem farfetched, and for others, impossible. If you need guidance, DM me on Facebook, and we can explore this more deeply than we can in this article. I can say with confidence that every woman I have worked with using these visualizations has walked away with a tool that has profoundly improved her life.


3. The Pause: Recognizing and Managing Conflict Responses

Research shows that you cannot solve a problem while you are in the midst of it. When a conversation feels depressing or starts turning into a conflict, your heart rate increases, triggering your body’s fight or flight response. These primal responses shut down your reasoning abilities. They also trigger your partner’s fight or flight response too, and they may become defensive or stop listening. It's crucial to recognize when this is happening so your reactive brain doesn’t lead you to say or do something you might regret. This is why Step 1 is so important. By becoming more aware of what triggers you, you can preemptively manage your reactions in a few different ways.


The quickest method is to take a deep breath before speaking, allowing yourself a moment to gather your thoughts. Then, without emotion, simply state the obvious in a way that feels true for you.


For example, you might say: “Honey, this conversation feels important, and I want to engage in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, I feel my heart racing, and as a result, I'm not at my best. I want to be at my best for both of us. Can we resume this conversation in 30 minutes? This will help me calm my fight, flight, freeze response and get my breathing and heart rate back to normal. I believe this is important to us. Don’t you? I just need that time to think about this a little more while I go for a walk.”


This approach allows you to step back, regulate your emotions, and return to the conversation with a clearer mind and a calmer heart.


4. Self-Confrontation

As you go for that walk or engage in any self-soothing activity to lower your heart rate, your mind will start to recall what’s most important and why. This is why having a clear vision is so crucial. After about 15 minutes, you can begin the process of self-confrontation. One effective method is to look for the 10%.


While your partner might be doing something unhealthy for your relationship, there’s a good chance that if you look deeper, you’ll find that you have contributed in a small way, making it easier for the situation to get out of control. Identify that small part and take full ownership of it. This self-awareness and accountability will be essential in the final step we will discuss today.


5. Remember Your Partner’s and Your Own Strengths

When you first fell in love, it was effortless to see your partner’s strengths. However, over time, those strengths may have become overshadowed by their less productive behaviors. Our brains are wired to detect dangers in our environment more readily than benefits. John Gottman, author of “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” provides an excellent guide to rebuilding your partner’s love maps. Recognizing and appreciating your partner’s strengths can act as a powerful force, drawing you back toward each other.

Similarly, it’s crucial to remember your own strengths during times of conflict. Just as you can identify the positive attributes and capabilities of your partner, take a moment to reflect on your own qualities. Acknowledge your resilience, compassion, and ability to navigate challenges. Understanding and valuing your own strengths can empower you to approach conflicts with confidence and resilience.

By keeping both your partner’s strengths and your own in mind, you can navigate conversations more effectively and work towards restoring harmony and closeness in your relationship.


6. Soft Start-up

The last thing we will touch on today is something John Gottman calls the 'soft start-up.' When reengaging, the most important thing to consider is that your words only represent 15% of the communication being received. So when looking for the bid for connection, avoid doing it through texting, because 85% of the communication received is the energy surrounding your words. Before reengaging, you need to be able to see yourself worthy to be loved fully. This allows you to love them more fully. Judgment is replaced with pure curiosity. You have stepped back from conflict by taking a brief time out to lower your heart rate and looked for the small part that you can take ownership of. You are now ready to reengage.


Your conversation will be unique to your situation, but it might look something like this:

“I’m grateful that this conflict has surfaced, providing us with an opportunity to address what’s happening and navigate through it together. I'm fully committed to resolving this, and I hope you are too. I envision a future where we're living happily ever after, surrounded by our children and grandchildren, sharing our lives openly and feeling safe to express our thoughts, fears, and dreams. Protecting this vision is paramount to me because I truly believe it’s worth the discomfort of the conversation we're having now. I hope you share this sentiment.


Upon reflection, I've realized that I've played a part in this issue. Recently I may have been quick to pass judgment, but as I delved deeper and got curious about what was happening, I recognized that I should have addressed this years ago. Fear of rocking the boat kept me silent, and I now see that wasn’t fair to you. I should have communicated my feelings when they were still minor issues. I take full ownership of that and am committed to improving communication in the future to prevent issues from escalating.


Now, I'd like to invite you to reflect too. Is there something you feel you could take ownership of regarding the issue we're facing? Sharing this with me today or in the near future will help us move forward together, strengthening our relationship and our ability to navigate challenges as a team.”


Conclusion

Reconnecting with your partner is a journey that begins with a clear vision of your future and involves practical steps you can take today. By becoming a fascinated anthropologist, you can observe your behaviors and identify patterns that no longer serve you. Building empathy for yourself and your partner helps you understand and release things that are no longer beneficial. Preempting self-sabotaging behaviors and engaging in self-confrontation can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth. Remembering your partner’s strengths and using a soft startup for reengaging in difficult conversations paves the way for meaningful connection.


These steps are designed to help you foster a deeper, more loving relationship. It's important to go slowly and practice them with patience and self-compassion. The goal is not just to reduce conflicts but to offer small bids for connection and recognize masked bids from your partner. These steps, along with others, will help build a bridge towards a more connected and fulfilling relationship.


This is just the beginning. I invite you to request your free guide, "Finding Your Voice: A Roadmap to Deeper Connection Through Compassionate Communication." You can also contact me for a complimentary 30-minute session to gain clarity on your vision. Let's work together to create the loving, resilient relationship you deserve.

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