Over the last two weeks, I have been laying out the 4 pillars of truly healthy relationships. The first two pillars are Self-Knowledge and Integrated Self-Expression.
Once we have been honest with ourselves and our partners, we are ready to deepen our intimacy with the 3rd pillar: Commitment to Receptivity.
Receptivity means being able to see, hear and receive our partners as they truly are. To be receptive, we must stay in the moment, drop our filters, and take them in with full acceptance.
This does not mean we don’t have feelings about what we hear, or that we agree with everything they say.
It just means hearing our partners into full expression. This involves staying present without interpreting, positioning ourselves, or analyzing.
For most of us, this is extremely challenging! But with practice, it becomes a revelation you will not regret.
Here are three ways to fully receive your partner and take your relationship to a higher plane:
Receiving Your Partner: 3 Ways to Transform through Acceptance
1. Have a “Beginner’s Mind”
In her amazing book If the Buddha Married, Dr. Charlotte Kasl encourages couples to experience each other as if for the first time, with a mind that is empty of old meanings and labels. This means doing your best to let go of any past transgressions, assumptions, and expectations.
For example, if your partner expresses a desire to spend more time alone, you take this at face value without making meaning, or thinking about how this will impact you. Start with this attitude: “It is what it is.”
Just listen, ask questions and acknowledge your partner’s feelings. You might say something like, “I can see this is really important to you.” Less is more.
2. Be Open to Influence
According to Dr. John Gottman, being open to influence from your partner (especially if you are male) is a significant predictor of a lasting relationship. Try avoiding deadlock and fall in line beside your partner instead. Try asking your partner questions about their point of view and express willingness to look at the problem from a new perspective.
You might say: “Explain your thinking to me,” “Tell me why this is so important to you?” “How would you solve this problem if you were going to solve it alone.” Or, “What are you afraid of in this situation?”
If you stay open, you will create a sense of being on the same team, which keeps the barriers down and the connection strong.
3. Hold the Space
One of the most important things you can do for your partner is to stay still and allow them to express their feelings to completion. Your job in this case is to give them your full attention, keep an open mind, listen and receive. Try not to interrupt the process.
For example, if your partner begins to express feeling overwhelmed, resist the urge to jump in and problem solve. Or if they cry, don’t say: “Please don’t cry,” even if your intention is to make them feel better. By preventing others from feeling their feelings to completion, we are cheating them and ultimately missing a real opportunity for intimacy and growth. We all need to know that it is okay to be who we are.
This intention holds the safety of a non-judgmental and non-interfering space, in which your partner can come into full self-expression. The return on this is HUGE. Your partner will feel acknowledged and relief that they were able to be honest.
If you follow these three steps outlined above, you will take your relationship to the next level.
Receptivity breeds trust, emotional connection, and honesty. If you are ready for truly healthy relationships, make the commitment to try these approaches. They work not only for romantic relationships, but for all relationships that matter to us.
Good luck and please do let me know how you find these in the comments below!!