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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 1
18 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 1
More than half of the mar-
riages in America end in divorce.
When the magic (and honey-
moon biology) wears off, you
may not yet have the tools for
communication that unites and
There are a variety of reasons
for difficulties in communica-
tion: 1) The breakdown of the
nuclear family has left many with-
out positive images or experi-
ences of intimate communica-
tion, 2) Marital role expectations
have changed over the last 40
years, leaving many confused,
and 3) Sometimes there is a great
inequality regarding what each
brings to the relationship, and
if there are huge gaps in inter-
ests, spirituality, nutrition, hob-
bies, music, sexuality (etc), much
more work needs to go into that
When people fall in love,
their partner appears close to
perfect, but "being in love" is a
mental/emotional state that lasts
12 to 18 months. When the ini-
tial chemistry changes, suddenly
we see our partner's flaws, which
can throw communication into
a tailspin.
Love is blind, and when the
blinders come off, people need
tools to deal with flaws, mis-
conceptions, mismatches, and
poor communication. This is the
time for couples to really learn
to love. This article focuses on
learning to communicate in a
way that heals and unites. Here
are 9 key steps for intimate com-
1. startup. Identify whether
or not you create a "fast startup"
in expressing things that are dif-
ficult to say. If you express hurt
or anger in a loud and heated
way, the conversation will rap-
idly accelerate and turn into an
argument. If your style
is a fast startup, take a
few deep breaths be-
fore "starting a fire."
2. develop Ground
Rules for how you
communicate strong
emotions. Here is a
good way to start. Tell
your partner there is
something you'd like
to talk about, and ask,
"Is this a good time?"
If it's not, agree on a time that's
good for both of you . . . in the
near future. Make yourselves
comfortable. Sit on a comfort-
able couch and make physical
contact. Hold hands. Make eye
3. how severe Is The Prob-
lem? Before talking, ask yourself
how serious your concern is on
a scale of 1-10. If you can say
to your partner, "This issue is
a 3," s/he will instantly feel re-
lief. If the issue is a 7-10, share
that, and then ask your partner if
they'd like a minute to get cen-
tered. Consider how much easier
it is to hear something painful
when you've taken a minute to
get centered compared to when
you are blind-sided by hot, raw
4. Express yourself. You may
feel mad, glad, sad, or scared
(the 4 core emotions) and may
have concluded that the prince
or princess you married has an
evil twin living inside. Here is
how to convey what you need
to. Take responsibility for how
you feel. If you say, "You really
pissed me off with that absurd
comment," you are conveying
the message that your feelings
are your partner's responsibility.
But, you are respon-
sible for how you re-
spond to anything
Here is a healthy
way t o c o m m u n i -
cate distress, "When
you said or did x, y,
and z, it caught me
off guard. At first I
was scared, and I felt
my gut tighten up. I
was shaking. Pretty
quickly fear turned
to anger. I feel that anger right
now. My heart's pounding and
my palms are sweaty."
5. Accept What Is. You are
both learning to accept what
"is" right now. Don't enter a
conversation with the idea that
you're going to change the other
person, and don't make assump-
tions about your partner's moti-
vations. He or she will always
have a good reason for why they
did what they did. Avoid "prov-
ing that you are right and s/he
is wrong." Remember that the
two of you are striving to solve
a problem a team.
6. listen. After you've shared
your concern, you need to listen.
Be eager to discover their mo-
tivation and what they thought
they said or did, because what
you think motivated your partner
is almost never true. Many of us
feel the urge to jump in and re-
spond quickly. Now is the time
to sit back and listen with an
open mind, without judgment.
Real listening is powerful and
lets your partner know that it's
safe to speak their mind.
7. be Open and Vulnerable.
Intimate Communication -- 9 Key Steps
by David Gersten
When you are vulnerable, you're
willing to embrace uncertain-
ty. And it means that you may
hear something that is difficult
to hear. Listen. And after all the
words have been spoken, there
may arise a period of silence.
Practice being okay with silence.
It's normal and healthy.
8. moving to Resolution. Mov-
ing from fear and anger back to
love is great, but don't move to
the bedroom too quickly if this is
a romantic relationship. As your
conversation is approaching clo-
sure, you may feel the urge to
quickly hug and kiss your part-
ner. Slow down. At this point,
hold hands with intention and
love. Move slowly, letting your
hearts soften.
9. Closure. Ask if there is any-
thing else your partner wants
to say. Likewise, ask yourself if
there is anything else you need
to say. Bring the conversation to
an end in a loving way. In your
"opening comments" you may
have said things that felt hurtful
to your partner. End the conver-
sation with words of appreciation
and gratitude. You've survived a
conversation that used to be a
battle, and now you are truly a
healthier couple.
By practicing these 9 steps,
you will see your partner with
loving eyes, instead of repeat-
edly asking yourself, "How did
my prince/princess turn into a
David Gersten, M.D. practices
nutritional medicine and integrative
psychiatry. his books include Are
you Getting Enlightened Or losing
Your mind, A Psychiatrist's Guide for
mastering Paranormal and spirit-
ual Experience. he can be reached at
his Encinitas office at (760) 633-3063,, or www.
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