Do you have a relationship that fills you up? Do you feel like the luckiest person in the world? Hopefully your relationship is a source of deep joy. If not, then don’t just decorate your painful relationship with more roses, candy, and lingerie. Keep reading so you can figure out what your relationship really needs.
Adult love relationships need two things to thrive. Once we have these two things on a consistent basis, we feel like the luckiest person in the world.
The first is accessibility. This simply means that your partner can get to you. For example, do you make yourself available to your partner on a regular basis? Are you distant, aloof, distracted, or generally hard to connect with? In love, we need to know that our partner is there for us.
Second, we need to know that our partner is responsive to our requests for connection. If you ask your partner for something, do they respond to your request? Even in situations where they might not be able to respond, do they acknowledge your request? Do they care about how you feel? A responsive partner also notices needs and tries to meet them before the other person asks. This isn’t mindreading, but rather just simple awareness.
Accessibility and responsiveness are the foundation of a secure relationship. When we don’t feel either one of these, we either turn up the volume to get our partner’s attention, or we withdraw to cope with the pain of disconnection. If these patterns become entrenched, then the relationship goes into distress and despair. Love can hurt.
If you want to make sure your relationship has a good balance of accessibility and responsiveness, consider the following challenges:
- Make it easy for your partner to connect with you (that means turn off the phone, computer, and TV to have a real conversation!).
- Show your partner that they come first with you.
- Encourage your partner to share their feelings with you. Keep them talking to you and let them know it’s important for you to know their heart.
- Respond to signals from your partner for closeness and connection.
- Let your partner lean on you when they’re anxious or unsure.
- Even when you fight or disagree, let your partner know that they are important to you and reassure them that you will find a way to come back together.
- Practice confiding in your partner about your emotions, stressors, and thoughts.
These are some basic ways to let your partner know that you are accessible and responsive. When your partner is reassured on a regular basis that you’re there for them and you care how they feel, everything in life seems to be easier for them and for you. If you aren’t sure how to get these from your partner, then I encourage you to take the risk of sharing that fear with your partner to see if they will care about your insecurity.
Of course, relationships need reassurance, especially if we’re pulled several different directions with kids, careers, and other demands. As you spend time working to be more accessible and responsive, you’ll be giving your partner a gift that will keep on giving!