For my husband who understands my deepest need for both conversation and connection as well as lots of time to read and write. Thank you.
Recently, I read a book about a woman whose life was so bereft of connections and love that she did not want to live anymore. Her daily life was centered around domestic duties fulfilling the needs of a cold, cheating, and distant husband. Yet, her own need for connection on a personal level was unmet. She was lonely, silent, and empty. Oblivious to his wife’s inner thought life, her husband let their union fade and dry up. Their marriage was an untended garden.
Sadly, you can live in the same house with someone and be unconnected, but connections give our relationships purpose and meaning.
The woman expected her husband to know what she was feeling and not saying, and he expected her to take care of life outside of his job without too much emotional need. Neither stance will improve connection. Connection needs conversation, balance, cultivation, and maintenance to survive. It takes a little work. Not a trudge through every issue, just maintenance. Some conversation, some trust.
To keep connections then, we must tend them. Sometimes the work required is outside our comfort zone, but we still need to do it.
Connections like marriage that go beyond friendship require higher levels of connection, but all connection needs maintenance. Some have learned silence as a defense. They don’t want to say the wrong thing. If you are someone who communicates in a rapid fire way, you may run over someone who needs more time to consider their words.
In marriage particularly, the relationship has to be cultivated and protected.
With that in mind, consider that no one can hear your inner monologue but you. Connection takes conversation and both parties being honest and open.
My husband and I have found a brilliant level of honesty to keep our marriage connected. Without an accusing voice, or the berating and criticizing gotcha moments, we can all do a better job at love.
A word of advice: Don’t set your spouse up to fail by having expectations that you don’t voice. If you have a need, a deep desire, tell them. When you need them to step up for you, tell them. Be specific. Expecting someone who is not you to know what you need without telling them what and why sets them up to disappoint you.
It may require multiple times telling someone what you need in several different ways to help them understand it. But, by not telling them what you need and making sure they understand, you are unintentionally seeking to prove to yourself that they don’t care when they don’t deliver.
Go ahead and tell them what you need and how it makes you feel to have it or not have it.
(If, however, you share exactly what when and how you deeply need something emotionally speaking, without demanding it, and then they do not attempt some response? There may be a multitude of other issues at hand. That is a whole ‘nother group of posts. But, start with You get what you allow. Also read Own It. We are responsible for our own lives and must take ownership of the part we play.)
Overall, connection is our common ground, our deepest need, and requires respect. If we take it for granted, we may lose it.
Connection with family and friends are gifts to us too. Some level of care is required to keep them from withering away.
In a friendship, if you are not happy with how it goes, share it. Say I feel bad/weird/unhappy/lonely when ________happens. Do not accuse. How you feel about something is not a wrong committed against you. Just share your feeling and what moment(s) it is related to. Stay on subject and allow your genuine emotion to be present.
Remember, do not accuse someone of making you feel a certain way. Own that your feelings are your own and not the responsibility of everyone around you to fix.
If you miss someone, say so, but don’t make it their problem to fix. If you make your relationship a problem they need to fix, then you probably won’t have that relationship very long.
Acknowledge that people are different and need different levels of interaction. Let them know what you need.
You might find working through something with someone is uplifting.
When both parties are interested in the truth and connection, working through something bonds you together.
Truthfully, our lives demonstrate that we are fallible people with human hearts and nature, so we don’t always do or say the right thing. In fact, if you spend any time on social media, it is hard to miss how often people (including ourselves) say the wrong thing. But, we are just people and no one is perfect, no matter how self righteous current voices sound. Most of us help our friends or family if they need it. We may not always do it right, but most people are decent in some way.
Connections give our life meaning.
We connect for a cause, for education, to worship, at concerts, and at family gatherings, just to mention a few. Big and small moments celebrated with someone stick with us and carry more emotional weight. In fact, when something wonderful happens to us, oftentimes our first thought is to tell someone. Conversation and later reliving the memories bond people further.
Conversely, not sharing our thought lives or experiences separates us. It blocks the intimacy required for a deep relationship.
Ultimately, if we don’t try to keep connected, we weaken our bonds.
Even people like me who prefer solitude need other people, but sometimes we forget this treasure and have to force ourselves out of the box.
Connection grounds us, gives us firm footing, a brotherhood and sisterhood, a tribe. It is up to keep them.
Barefoot and connecting,
Remember to check out Own It for an eye opening conversation.