How’s the depth of your personal relationship going? What does that even mean to you? Depth. Some of the following words spring forth; open-ness, honesty, availability, self reflection, giving-ness, sharing challenging communications for growth. What’s so good about depth you ask? In my world the word depth means a feeling of incredible connectedness. A union of soul qualities. A feeling of total surrender in the most positive sense. Nothing needs to be hidden. There is an ongoing flow of love, acceptance, appreciation, gratitude, joy and knowing of the other. Does this sound impossible? We can experience a sense of these feelings in the early stages of personal relationships, but few couples know how to build this, as we live in a world that does not have many parents / teachers to demonstrate this effectively for us.
The alternative to depth is staying in the shallows. Safe. Surface. Talking about the weather and what happened on the way to work and what we might do on the weekend. There is a place for all of this, but it’s not really opening the doors to depth. Playing it safe happens so much as we fear being hurt by revealing ourselves too openly. The down side of this is that shallows are unfulfilling and kind of grey. We have an inner knowing that there can be so much more and often attempt to get hold of it by a series of unconscious games and manipulations with our partners.
There are different levels of sharing that we have with people. The type of personal information you choose to share with office colleagues will probably be very different with what you share with your partner. One of the ways to deepen is to share feelings. This is the inner territory. These hidden parts have content that is held close; our dreams and aspirations, our magnificence; our preconceived shortcomings, embarrassments, hurts. We don’t open up these feelings to others readily, for fear of finding judgement, condemnation or ridicule. ‘You felt what? You did what? You are really weird / stupid /pathetic / vain etc.’
In the early stages of relationship there a series of steps towards sharing our deeper feelings. We will check out the other person’s world and if there are common links around philosophies, morals, beliefs or even similiar life experiences then a feeling can emerge that we have made more meaningful connection through a common understanding. When we understand each other there is a warmth. Aaaah, you will ‘get me.’ More can be shared and more depth explored. We love connection points. We suddenly have more capacity to understand another. To flow into each others experience with interest, compassion and non judgement. There feels to be some kind of attractor force between like ideas and experience. Sharing implies a reciprocal engagement.
Now as the relationship progresses something interesting can start to happen. We may become invested in getting particular things (ie loving touch/speech, confirmation that we are special) from the relationship. Maintaining an OK status quo can feel safer than finding the courage to take the relationship to a new higher level by challenging behaviours in one another that appear to be selfishly motivated. What if we risk the affections that we want from our partner? For if they become offended or hurt they may suspend or withdraw the behaviours that we cherish for a period of time. In Depth we speak from our truth to allow feelings to be heard and acknowledged. It may take courage initially, to bring issues to your partner that they may find difficult. Depth is solid within it’s objective to assist the other; even if it means tough love.
Raising issues in a manner that is ‘neutral’ whilst demonstrating genuine interest in the other, helps to create an environment that is safe to open discussions.
ie: ‘You have become quite involved with the TV lately. I feel like you are disconnecting from some of your usual life interests. When I see you there for 6 hours, I start to feel a mix of agitated and sad. What’s happening for you as i say that?’
In a relationship that promotes depth both partners are willing to look at the issues and take responsibility for negative feelings that arise and both partners do their best to co-operatively find the healthiest and most loving way of moving forward. Discussions are not focused on some-one being right and or wrong. The intention is growth and the offshoot is Depth. Imagine for a moment that nothing is hidden from your partner. There is no fear of reprisal, (not because it won’t arise in some moments) because there is an agreed relationship template to allow feelings to surface, and be spoken, knowing that the feelings are simply being aired, they are not attempting to blame the other for these feelings.
The main imperative is to see if we can access the open person’s world. How is it for them? How have they reached this way of behaving and how do I feel now that I understand WHY they were watching so much TV. What will I do with MY feelings (sad & agitated) now? Knowing that my feelings are actually my responsibility.
In the Shallows you ignore the TV watching, because it may prompt anger in your partner. Perhaps you revert to lower manipulations like hinting that you are wanting him / her to interact with you more, guilting / pleading / sulking. Anything but an open, honest discussion. In Depth you are not relying on the other person to be a tick list of things that you WANT in order to feel fulfilled in life. Loving the other exactly where they are at, even if they can’t understand your world and perspective. Agreeing to disagree can be healthy as long as you can acknowledge that your partner is on a different page and drop WANTING them to see it your way. Allowing is powerful. Look out, Depth is on its way.
OK, here comes your partner and you would really like to talk about……….?? The first conversation could be about relationship. What is it for you? What is the deepest relationship you could imagine? How could we keep moving towards deeper relating? What do we need to alter in our current relating that can see us deepen? And how is it that I am so keen to go there with YOU! Lets keep celebrating that to start with and you are definitely on the right track.