Relationships are like gardens. They need focused care with attention to their nourishment, otherwise they may become overwhelmed. When we are caring for a garden (or for children or pets), we often practice thoughtfulness. Are we doing the same in our romantic relationships?
Take water for an example.
Water is necessary for any garden to thrive, but if you give it too much, it could lead to devastation. The ground may not be able to absorb all of that water, causing the roots, stems, and blooms to wilt and rot. So, instead of dumping a liter of water on at a time, we use watering cans with filters or a hose that adjusts the spray level. We move our potted plants under a shelter when heavy rains come. Too much or too little of any good ingredient actually ends up damaging rather than nurturing.
Communication in our relationships is just like watering a garden — we shouldn’t flood our partners with information, but rather, intentionally utilize a filter.
I don’t mean this to say that you should withhold important information from your partner. Rather, I mean that we must be mindful of how and when we share information. When we struggle or have bad news, do we share all of that for the first time in a large group of people? Often, no. We wait until we can privately tell the people who are close to us, and then perhaps we tell others.
Similarly, when we show affection, are we intensely affectionate one day and then withhold affection for several days? Perhaps we do, intentionally or not, but working in rhythm can help to reduce conflict or stress within your relationship. That’s because intensity doesn’t build trust in relationships — consistency does.
Intentionally choosing how to share information and practice intimacy with your partner can deepen your bond by increasing your trust and improving your communication. Intimacy is not talking all the time and sharing whatever comes to your mind without giving it a second thought.
Many couples believe that to be intimate is to share everything they feel or have in mind with their partner without using any filter; without thinking about their context or what their partner needs at that time. In other words, they “flood” their partner instead of mindfully nurturing them with every act and word.
A basic guideline for sharing is that no one involved should be hungry, angry, or tired. That’s because the intellectual part of your brain becomes compromised in each of these situations, making it harder to judge and discern information, as well as understand your own reactions. Let’s start from that baseline and build up our skills as we go along.
How do you define and practice intimacy? I’d love to hear from you — you can reach me on Instagram @Dr.SaraNasserzadeh.