Want to be closer to your partner? Then be less critical. Sounds easy enough, right? WRONG.
Reflect back over the past 24 hours and notice how many times you had critical thoughts about your partner or loved one... I bet you had at least five. How do I know? Chances are you are that critical internally towards yourself.
Funny(but not really), many of us aren't aware of how self critical we are. We go about our day insulting, berating, and putting ourselves down like bullies on an adult playground. If you take a moment and pay attention to your internal dialogue you will notice that you have 1-3 key negative statements you rattle off in your head. Examples such as, "I'm an idiot" or "I am ugly" or "that was stupid" are probably up there on the list.
If we are as self critical as I think we are (and I know I am right on this one), we are just as critical towards others.
I became a Gottman Leader because I love the Gottman principles.One of the first things they teach, that is backed by research, is that there are four (4) primary ways that couples often ruin their relationship. You know what the first one is? CRITICISM.
It is kind of hard to fill your emotional and sexual bank account if you are criticizing yourself and your partner all the time--even if you are doing so in your mind and not outwardly. Yes, your partner can feel when you are annoyed with them (or with yourself); you have a look on your face that shows it, even if you say, "I am fine" or sit quietly. We wear our emotions, especially criticism, on our sleeves like an old, dirty stain.
The antidote to criticism, if you are being critical towards your partner, is being gentle; practicing a gentle start up in how you communicate. That will earn you major relationship points! My favorite word, along those same lines, is VALIDATE. Partners love to feel validated, even if you don't agree with them. That is also a beautiful way to be gentle.
Being gentle, however, has to start with you being a little more gentle on yourself. Can you put the internal beat up stick down? Get to know that self critic (who is he/she? How old are they? Where do they reside in your body? When do they come out?). I promise if you can get to know that part of you that is critical all the time (we all have a critical part), you will soon realize that your internal critic is really trying to help you.That's right. That part of you that is calling you names and shouting profanities actually thinks it is helping you. Silly as it may seem, if you can connect with that part and practice being more gentle on yourself and that part (which is likely a smaller part of you), you will naturally be more gentle with others, including your partner.
Being gentle towards yourself may be challenging but it is possible. Starting daily with reframing negative self talk to positive, kind words will have an outward effect. The kinder you are towards yourself, the kinder you will be towards your loved ones. And that, my friends, can make for some great intimacy!
On September 13th, my colleague Jessica Werner and I are facilitating an 8-Week Gottman's Couples Class for couples wanting to improve their emotional connection, communication, and intimacy. This is a class that EVERYONE should take! It's foundational to a healthy relationship.
We hope to see you and your partner!
Remember, you are both worth it,