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  • Writer's pictureLauren Buckley

Nourishing the “Space Between” in Relationships

Updated: Apr 3

In all relationships, there exists a realm, often overlooked yet profoundly influential: the “space between” two individuals. When you commit to each other, this “space between” is born. It is a sacred space…a zone of safety between a couple. 

Think of the space between as a river that flows between you and your partner. The river is the source of nourishment for your relationship. Therefore it must be kept clean, pure, and free from garbage and toxins. Filling it with safe, respectful and meaningful interactions nourishes it and lets the water flow freely and calmly. Filling it with criticism, disrespect, contempt and toxicity muddies the waters and pollutes the relationship. 

On the shores of the river is where we sometimes remain “stuck” in our own self-care and individuality, rather than in what nourishes the river. When we are on our own side of the river, we are stuck in a zero-sum game, focused on being “right” or “winning.” When we step into what’s best for me rather than what’s best for the relationship, we lose the ability to hang together in the relationship space or space between. This can cause the water in the river to not only be polluted, but eventually to run dry. 

It's within this space that emotions, desires, and vulnerabilities intertwine, shaping the very fabric of our connections. Through the lenses of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and Gottman Therapy, the significance of this space is paramount, emphasizing its role in fostering intimacy, understanding, and resilience within relationships. So, how do we nourish and grow this space between?

1. Cultivate Emotional Attunement: At the heart of both EFT and Gottman Therapy lies the concept of emotional attunement; the ability to tune into and empathize with your partner's emotions. This involves active listening, genuine curiosity, and a willingness to understand the underlying feelings driving behaviors. Practice validating and sitting with your partner's emotions and experiences and expressing empathy without judgment. By attuning to each other's emotional landscapes, you create the elements needed for trust and intimacy to flourish and sustain the space between. 

2. Prioritize Communication: Effective communication is the cornerstone of any thriving relationship. Gottman Therapy emphasizes the importance of healthy dialogue, encouraging couples to communicate openly, honestly, and respectfully. Practice active listening, where you focus wholeheartedly on your partner's words without formulating your response. Use "I" statements to express your thoughts and feelings, fostering understanding and connection. Try expressing a “positive need” rather than a negative statement (i.e. “I can use a bit of help with the dishes tonight” vs. “you never do anything to help!”). Additionally, embrace vulnerability by sharing your fears, hopes, and dreams with your partner, inviting them into your inner world and deepening your bond.

3. Nurture Rituals of Connection: Just as rituals enrich our lives with meaning and purpose, they also play a pivotal role in relationships. Gottman Therapy emphasizes the significance of rituals of connection; small, everyday gestures that affirm love, appreciation, and commitment. Whether it's sharing a morning coffee, cuddling before bed, or engaging in a weekly date night, prioritize moments of togetherness that strengthen your connection. These rituals serve as anchors amidst life's chaos, reminding you of the love and closeness you share.

4. Embrace Vulnerability: Vulnerability is the birthplace of intimacy, courage, and authenticity. EFT encourages couples to embrace vulnerability by expressing their deepest emotions and needs with honesty and courage. Share your fears, insecurities, and desires with your partner, creating a safe space for open dialogue and mutual support. Remember, vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but a testament to the strength of your bond.

5. Cultivate Emotional Safety: Both EFT and Gottman Therapy underscore the importance of emotional safety within relationships. Create an environment where you and your partner feel secure to express yourselves without fear of judgment or rejection. Foster trust through consistency, reliability, and integrity in your words and actions. Address conflicts with compassion and respect, focusing on finding solutions rather than assigning blame. By prioritizing emotional safety, you lay the foundation for a resilient and enduring connection and allow the space between to be a safe space for your partner’s emotions and experiences to be heard and understood.

The space between two individuals holds infinite potential for growth, healing, and transformation. By nourishing this sacred space with empathy, communication, rituals of connection, vulnerability, and emotional safety, you cultivate a relationship that is rich in intimacy, understanding, and joy. Staying stuck on the shores or letting the water run dry destroys relationships. The goal of a healthy relationship should be to keep the river flowing freely by nourishing, nurturing and actively tending to the space between.

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