I’m going to ramble a bit about connection. We are created for connection, we long to be part of something, to belong, to be valued for who we are. We want to make a meaningful contribution, to make a difference. We are created to know others and be known ourselves. This is universal to humanity. Not only in the community but in our intimate relationships.
When God formed Adam from the dust of the ground in the garden of Eden, as time went on it was discovered that “It’s not good for man to be alone.” So God put Adam to sleep and created Eve from one of his ribs.
So now part of him is missing that only Eve possesses. This makes him want to connect with her. She has something he wants. Not just his “lost” rib. He wants a connection with her on many levels. She wants this too, but differently. She wants his strength, his presence, his engagement with her.
But alas, many obstacles seem to hinder this tender connection and it can easily evaporate and seem elusive to regain. When we can’t figure it out or don’t know what to do, hopelessness and despair can set in.
This brings us to the Art of Connecting, which indeed is an art requiring wisdom, humility, and yes sacrifice at times. Love can’t grow in selfish hearts. It starts with desire.
Connection starts with desire. You’ve got to want it, or you won’t engage in the struggle it takes to have it. Your desire is what creates the passion to fight for something worth having. Your desire will commit you to grow up and put away the “childish things” that break your connection. It means facing our immature patterns and the “way we roll” that disconnects us from others. We aren’t born unselfish lovers, we must grow up to become them.
Rejection breaks the connection. The question must be asked,
Am I accepting them? (Don’t try to trick them, they can tell.)
Connection is lost when we place conditions on our love and acceptance. Think about it. It’s all about relational dynamics. Cause and effect. Rejection repels and creates distance. Acceptance draws others towards us and fosters the intimacy we crave.
Do I accept that my spouse is radically different from me or does my energy go towards changing them into what I need or want them to be?
All attempts to manipulate or change them sends a relational message of rejection to their heart. Like the law of gravity pulls down, it will push them away, and disconnect you as a couple. People don’t fall out of love, they create bad relational dynamics, but don’t take responsibility for them. Wisdom can and will change them if you take ownership.
Acceptance comes out of a heart that is mature enough to respect another’s uniqueness and individuality. They have different likes and tastes than I do. I must accept their preferences in music, movies, and food without putting them down or resenting those differences. They have different needs than me and ways to meet them. What charges me up wears them out. It could be shopping, meetings, love-making, talking, or wasting time. Love embraces these needs and differences and meets them with joy and service. This brings a luscious connection.
This may seem like stating the obvious, but it isn’t. Many hurting couples talk, but sadly their communication styles break their connection rather than strengthen it. Life and death are in the power of the tongue and words are containers with delivery systems that pull others toward you or push them away. This happens every time our lips open and words come out. We don’t have bad marriages we have bad words. We do the disconnecting to ourselves. We must own this and get a grip on our tongues that are a “restless evil,” without God’s help. Wise connectors learn to think before speaking and do a lot of mental editing and weighing of their words. Pick your fights, with the motive of resolution or you’ll be at it all the time. Is saying this worth the disconnect? Usually no.
This could be the most powerful relational tool in our connection arsenal. Nothing feels better than validation. We all want to be listened to and heard. That feeling of being listened to and having our emotions honored by another. The undivided attention of another who is interested in hearing our heart and validating what’s there. A wonderful resource for this is called “Getting the love you want” by Hendrix and Hunt.
If validation connects, then invalidation disconnects. Validation accepts invalidation rejects. It doesn’t accept the reality of the individual and pressures it to be something else. Here are some disconnectors.
“You shouldn’t feel that way. “ The person saying this is uncomfortable with the emotional reality of another so it’s invalidated.
What is really being said is,
(We aren’t going to go there, because I can’t risk emotional honesty.) So I will try to convince you to change your feelings. A better response to building a connection is,
“Tell me more about why you feel that way.” and if you are courageous,
“What do I that plays into your feeling that way?” Then listen with the goal of taking responsibility instead of defending yourself. This is love and validation. They will feel it and you will reap the benefits of your willingness to grow. God blesses this. This is the way.
We have more power in our relationships than we realize. We can make them whatever we want them to be with the commitment and tools necessary. We create the negatives and the positives we experience with our words and our dynamics. I hope this helps. Love you all, Dan XO