As I noted in the first of these posts, I am using the work of Mark Gregston as a jumping off point for each of these pieces. He proposes that there are ten techniques or tips that can be used to strengthen or recreate a damaged relationship. Today, I want to consider the recommendation that we spend time together, one on one…
One on one time is important. This is the time when we develop close and intimate bonds. One on one, we focus on each other; we listen more intently; we discuss what is important to us; we imagine together; we touch; we share dreams and fears. When we find ourselves in this close, uninterrupted exchange with our partner, we become deeply aware that we matter to the other. However, if you have been hurt -- or if you have hurt each other -- it is a complicated thing to choose to get close to the one who did the hurting, and that is precisely what is needed in this part of relationship building.
In retrospect, it isn't difficult to see where He and I lost track of each other. We got --
- focused on other things
Then, we allowed ourselves to get pulled off into a thousand other distractions. From financial concerns to health worries, we began to race around into the morass of competing issues demanding our attention, energy, and focus. Even when there were no BIG things needing to be attended to, we were pulled toward the latest sporting contest, or television series, or news event, or email, or computer game, or outside connection. It is pretty easy, actually, to live side by side -- and never really engage with one another...
We moved further and further apart, emotionally -- battling each other and protecting ourselves. Discontent and disappointment became the currency of our lives. We each came to feel as if we were being denied things to which we felt ENTITLED, and we couldn't bring ourselves to talk about it reasonably. Every encounter seemed to end badly. We knew better. We had the knowledge that should have shown us how to tackle what was growing between us and driving us apart, but we each retreated to our separate corners, licked our wounds, and glared out at each other -- refusing to give an inch.
These days, we are consciously spending time with one another deliberately and purposefully. We've learned not to look back too much; not to revisit the "bad old days;" not to try to figure out who was to blame for our private disaster... The truth is -- we were all to blame in our own way, AND it doesn't matter at all. What matters is the NOW that we have together. That NOW is good and not mired in angst, bitterness, fear, or resentment. We got lucky, back there -- luckier than we probably deserved. That is enough to know about the past...
Spending time one on one needn't be complicated or difficult. What we do together, when we are together, isn't particularly important as long as we enjoy doing it. It is, we have discovered, OK to let the things that are complicated, uncomfortable, or emotionally loaded go for now, and stay with those things that are simpler and less demanding. If it is easier to share a sandwich and a glass of tea than it is to get into a full on heavy scene, then that is what we will do. We know that the whole range of "doing things" is in our repertoire, and we know that we'll get there in time. We aren't so much "waiting" as we are simply letting the relationship between us set the pace and establish the rhythms. Perhaps we are being helped by the unyielding limits of surgical recovery and rehab -- but that is OK.
We are learning to invite each other to be with each other -- that thing we all do almost instinctively when our relationships are new. How did we forget? It is so important to say to our lovers, "I am going for a walk, will you come with me?" "Won't you come sit over here next to me?" "Would you like to watch this program on the television with me?" "Let's go get a bite to eat together, shall we?" Hearing that invitation, and having our invitation accepted connects us to one another. We know that when we are dating/courting, and we ought to remember it as we grow into long term companions and lovers.
That then is the all and all of this particular "technique." Be with one another. Walk and hold hands. Share a meal and talk. Take a drive and look at the world around you. Snuggle up and listen to music. Sit out late at night and watch the stars spin around. Lay down, as much as it is possible to do, the cares and worries, the blame and the hurt, the fear and the sadness, the expectations and the demands. Look at the face of the one you love and simply be there in the moment. Being with one another, one on one, is for now. It has no past that matters, and it has no future that is pressing. This is, for us, the most important time of our lives.