Last time we examined what a safe relationship might look or sound like; and what skills we can learn and practice to help the relationships in our lives. That if we are going to thrive, our marriages or other close relationships must remain a safe environment. This focus we are talking about is not physical, but emotional and relational safety.
If you haven’t already, go back and evaluate what we said emotional and relational safety sounds like. Such as: My feelings, ideas, and concerns matter. We honor one another. Anger is not out of control. I don’t feel judgment, but understanding and compassion. Discover together what you do, or don’t do that makes your partner, and even yourself feel unsafe!
The National Institute of Marriage has shown there are some very real steps you can take to creating a safer relationship starting today! Let’s explore what those steps are.
Steps to Safety…
- Honor your partner as the valuable, treasured, person that he or she is. Remember, honor is a choice. Even when you don’t feel like it, or feel like the other person deserves it, you can always choose to honor someone. Honor means to regard someone with respect. You can choose to regard someone with respect, even if they haven’t earned it.
- Suspend judgment. Negativity and criticism are the quickest way to tank vulnerability and authentic sharing. Meet your spouse with compassion and understanding instead. There’s an extremely wise word that says when we judge others we really are condemning ourselves. Because we do the very same thing. The things we judge in others are what drive us crazy about ourselves.
- Value differences. Are there things about your partner that are going to bother you? Yes, there’s no denying it! But differences can work FOR your relationship when you learn to value them. Differences are generally not about right and wrong! They are about our preferences, perceptions, likes and dislikes, and even personalities. We are all unique and not created the same. Learn to accept differences; to live with our personal uniqueness.
- Be trustworthy. When we are being trustworthy we demonstrate by our words and actions that we recognize and respect the worth and vulnerability of our partner. To the extent that you treat your spouse as precious and irreplaceable, you are trustworthy. And to the extent that you don’t, you are not trustworthy. Trust is NOT earned once and for all in a marriage. It’s an ongoing project, kind of like cutting your lawn. You maintain the lawn but it grows back and you have to do it again. Same with trust, we all must continually earn trust in our marriage. It must be continually established and maintained.
- Respect Boundaries. You cannot bulldoze boundaries in the name of vulnerability and connection. While these are steps that you can start enacting today, creating safety is still a process. Ignoring your partner’s or even your own boundaries will counteract the good work you are doing.
Safety is a key ingredient in the development of a closely connected relationship.
We were created to be open and intimate with one another.
Safety allows us to live out that kind of life. Openness and intimacy are the by-products of trust and safety. If we focus on creating a safe environment for both our spouse and ourselves, openness and intimacy will naturally occur. And when our hearts are open, our whole lives open up and we find ourselves truly thriving.
What change could you make to create a safer environment in your home? Leave us a note or a quick comment below. We’d love to hear your creative ideas!