Making Friends with Elephants

You come home to find your partner banging about in the kitchen, or closing doors more loudly than usual. You’re tired and you’d like nothing more than to kick back and relax, watch a movie, read a book. Preferably with an affectionate partner nearby. What do you do?

If you go about your business without checking in with your partner you’re quite probably adding to the stress of your relationship. Over time, unresolved conflict can erode your connection and intimacy, and hurt your chances for long-term fulfillment and longevity of your relationship.

Instead try making friends with the ‘elephant’ in the room. Go right up to your partner, give a hug and ask if they would like to talk about anything. Follow that up with letting them know that you need a few minutes to transition from your busy day and you’ll be ready in fifteen minutes.  Then go and do something small and simple to nourish yourself.

Most likely, during that time, your partner will be able to relax some knowing that you noticed their upset and took the time to let them know that it’s important to you to be there for them.  This makes a huge difference!

In Imago work, we use the Intentional Dialogue to accomplish this. It may seem familiar to folks who have done reflective listening and mirroring before, but it has some important distinctions. It takes the dialogue further, to a level of empathy and compassion that inevitably leads to a deeper connection.

Instead of growing resentment and anger, your partner gets a chance to unload, to appreciate your efforts, and to feel heard, seen and understood.  Within a relatively short period of time you’ve moved from tension and separation to connection.  That’s my kind of elephant!

Sofia E Jamison is in private practice in SE Portland, OR.  She offers Imago Relationship coaching for couples and hypnotherapy and soul-centered counsel for individuals.

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