The connection cannot be enforced in a relationship, even if a relationship is a consequence of connection. We do not realize that our relationship problems are often the result of a “crisis of connection”.
Recently I led a 2-day private coaching intensive for a well-meaning couple who ignorantly, harmlessly, had conspired together for years to create a tragic chaos of love.
We spent the entire “weekend intensive” in a quiet Canyon house just outside of Los Angeles, working to overcome their agonizing “connection crisis”.
Intimate relationships only really work when a real connection is given top priority.
Everything else between and around you – sex, finances, work, family (even your children), friends, lifestyle – needs to come second, at least most of the time, for intimate love to flourish.
Tragically, most of us do it the wrong way round.
We prioritize intellectual disagreements about money or sex or work or lifestyle, while our experience of connection gets as much attention as a pickle in a candy store.
This is a good example because asking yourself why the hell would someone sell pickles in a candy store is like asking, “Why the hell isn’t this relationship working when I’m doing everything I can to make it work ?! ”
The connection is the feminine value.
All of us, men and women, have been taught throughout our lives to discard the “CONNECTED EXPERIENCE” in favour of more masculine issues:
Are we working well?
Do we have enough money?
Is there any point in this conversation?
What is broken that I need to fix?
Is someone bleeding?
So we try to create functional relationships – in other words, predominantly “male” – that inevitably suffer from chronic disconnection and therefore do not thrive.
It’s like building a big, beautiful castle with little life in it. Sometimes there is even an outright war within our own castle walls.
Whatever our dissatisfaction, we tend to believe that it is caused by a lack of desired outcomes: not enough sex or affection, too much arguments or focusing on the negatives, not enough freedom to be me, or not enough Intimacy … and we rarely question what that says.
We don’t realize that these lack of results are often the result of a “crisis of attachment”.
Did you know that women initiate 70% of divorces? ( American Sociological Association, 2015 )
Naturally!!! The feminine value is connection, and connection is the most consistently overlooked need that both men AND women need. It’s just that most women feel like they are not connected, and visually, more so than most men.
Even in my relationship, my fiancé usually feels a breakup between us long before I do. I’ll think everything is great – mostly because she doesn’t look upset and no one is bleeding – and suddenly she’ll say in a sad tone, “I haven’t felt very connected to you lately.”
“What the f * k are you talking about?”
… is what I’m going to think, but do my goddamn best not to say it out loud or show it on my face because I know better than to immediately dismiss your experience or devalue what your experience of separation is just about would further promote! (phew)
Most women are biologically more sensitive to “connection” than most men. With far more oxycontin and estrogen , the attachment and feeling hormones, women literally live in different experience realities than men.
A higher testosterone level in men makes us more action-oriented (“Is there any point in this conversation?”) And less feeling (“How do I feel? Ok, I think.”).
Unfortunately, most women do not have the skills to effectively communicate their experiences in a way that men can actually hear, and most men do not have the skills to hear among the details of what their partners are really asking for.
So we continue to prioritize male concepts of relationship success, and our “crisis of connection” deepens.
I have worked with many functioning couples who even owned magnificent houses and great wealth, but who were nevertheless destined for each other in relative misery, sometimes quietly, sometimes painfully loud.
It was the same with Stan and Sonya, the couple I hosted for this private intensive weekend. (* not their real names)
When a man initiates couple coaching with me, it is almost always because his partner has ultimately made it unmistakably clear that she has finished if she has not already left. By the time Stan turned to me, they were already past the brink of collapse, already separated.
Nonetheless, they both showed up. For two days we worked on connection practices, how to first establish a real connection in communication before seeking an agreement or even an intellectual understanding on longstanding controversies.
We explored healthy boundaries because boundaries create security and security between two people – not just physical, but also mental and emotional security – is absolutely essential to create a healthy connection. If you don’t feel safe with your partner, you cannot let go of your protection and be authentically vulnerable, which says that an authentic connection is not possible.
Over the course of the weekend, Stan and Sonya saw how simple connecting practices can literally force their bodies to get closer on the couch, and how blindly acting out old behavior patterns that create a separation instantly fly them to opposite ends of the room would.
It’s easy, really. But not easy. Because it often requires breaking through decades-old awkward patterns and shifting entrenched, limiting beliefs into more open-hearted ways of thinking, seeing and being.
But that’s why I love working with couples (especially on weekend intensive courses where we can really practice embodiment).
Intimate relationships are the transformative fires where all of our old wounds and fear-based beliefs come to the surface so that they can ultimately be seen and healed.
Fortunately, we don’t necessarily need years of therapy to create exquisite moments of connection with one another.
After all, we just want to be happy in the moment, with a harmonious, peaceful relationship that illuminates our everyday life instead of darkening it.
That’s what becomes possible when you learn how to connect first. In fact, you can get through anything that comes up on this wild human journey if you know how to connect with your partner quickly. Seriously … EVERYTHING.
I have personally worked with some of the most painful, broken couples who have become long-term success stories as they learned how to overcome their own “connection crisis”.
As for Stan and Sonya, their journey has continued since we ended our weekend. I cannot know for sure whether they will be made for each other in the long term. After all, years of painful dynamism have brought them to this point of crisis.
But one thing I know for sure:
To create a deep connection, all it takes is the willingness – and the courage – to never stop exploring your partner’s, authentic heart.