Christian Living


Marriage 911

Determining the Direction of the Connection

Would you like to influence your mate? Would you like to one better than that—determine the direction of the connection?

If you are like most people, you answered an emphatic ‘yes.’ Of course you’d like to influence the direction of the connection. You’d like your mate to be caring, sensitive, kind and keenly interested in you. It would be frosting on the cake if they also considered you wise, witty and great looking.

I have great news for you--you can influence the direction for the connection. It’s true. You can positively influence your mate to care about you, speak kindly to you and show genuine caring and affection for you.

So, you’re wondering how this is done.

Before I share these secrets, I want to present for your consideration the exact opposite scenario. Consider Helen, a 54-year-old woman who is so self-assured that she is described by her husband as aloof and detached. A professional woman with significant influence, Helen admits she can be preoccupied at times.

“It’s true,” she said during a recent Marriage Intensive at The Marriage Recovery Center. “I’m hard to get close to,” she said. “I’ve been very independent most of my life. I know I need less affection than my husband.”

“That makes it tough on me,” her husband, James said. “I know it’s usually the other way around--the man being needy. But in our case she is the one who pushes away from intimacy.”

I was curious about this and so I asked a lot of questions about their relationship. It turns out that the scenario was not quite as straight-forward as it first appeared. It turned out that James could be quite demanding, and sensing his critical attitude, she pushed away from him. Rather than deal with their interpersonal conflict head on, she had built an emotional wall of protection as a way to cope with her pain.

Pointing this out to Helen proved invaluable in helping them work on their damaging dance—his criticism and her response of distancing. We discussed how she could handle his criticism in more effective ways, allowing for intimacy to develop.

Most important, we were able to discuss with James how he could positively impact the direction of the connection. He was thrilled with this “power” and made changes that dramatically altered their relationship. Helen, of course, was also thrilled at his willingness to improve their marriage.

Here are some additional tips on how to influence the direction of the connection:

First, know that you can influence your mate. 

We often take a very passive approach to our relationships. We tend to think, “This is just the way it has to be,” when in fact we can greatly influence the relationship. Just as we can make a positive impression on others—friends, family, co-workers—we can make a positive impression on our mate.

Second, reflect on what your mate is asking for from you.

Just as you might choose to become very clear about what your employer wants from you, so too you would want to know what your mate is seeking in the relationship. You can learn about their love patterns, what pleases them and what they ask for from you. 

Third, give your mate what they want.

Since your mate wants something from you, such as more affection and affirmation, you can give him/her what they are asking for. You can, in fact, give them high doses of what they want, making an obvious positive impact. Scripture tells us, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Fourth, make adjustments in what you give them.

Noticing the impact of what you offer, you are in a great position to make minor course corrections. You can test—adjust—test—adjust. You can offer less of something and more of something else. You can notice what pleases them and give them what they want. This kind of sacrificial giving is almost always met with reciprocated efforts.

Finally, check in with your mate.

Maintain an open, honest pattern of communication with your mate. Ask them if they appreciate what you are doing or if they would like you to do something else. Be open to hearing feedback and then altering your course accordingly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Would you like to influence the direction of the connection to your mate? You can do that and more by practicing these tools. Would you like more information on how to improve your relationships? 

Dr. Hawkins and his team are available to work with you via Phone, Skype or intensive counseling for you and/or your marriage. Please go to our website, www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and discover more information about this as well as the free downloadable eBook, A Love Life of Your Dreams, including other free videos and articles. 

Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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