A safe relationship. You might not know exactly what I mean by safety, but I bet you know what an unsafe relationship feels like. Do you have THAT person in your mind? The person that makes you feel scared, closed off, or even unimportant?
Is that unsafe person your spouse? If so, ok, we have work to do. Hang in there.
If that unsafe person is not your spouse, hang in too. There is a huge opportunity to learn and practice some skills that will help other relationships in your life AND protect your marriage. If you are going to thrive, your marriage must remain as a safe environment.
What do I mean by safety? Obviously physical safety is a component, but what I really want to focus on is emotional and relational safety. The National Institute of Marriage in Branson Missouri has some great ways to look at safety in relationships:
Emotional and relational Key Markers for Safety…
- I know my partner cares about me.
- My feelings, ideas, and concerns matter.
- We honor one another.
- Our differences are allowed and valued.
- We both work to build trust in our relationship.
- I can have space if I need it.
- Anger is not out of control.
- I don’t feel judgment, but understanding and compassion.
- We really feel like partners, not enemies.
- I can be open and vulnerable with my spouse knowing they will keep this confidence safe.
Do these things sound like your marriage? If, not, where is the breakdown? Could it be you don’t feel cared for? Are you being heard? Is it anger? Where does the safety stop?
Ask yourself some questions about safety…
- What do I do, or not do, that makes MY PARTNER feel unsafe?
- Possibilities: angry outbursts, threats of leaving (separation, divorce), ignoring issues, withdrawal, sarcastic humor without regard for feelings, criticizing, inferring or stating that their feelings are wrong or ridiculous.
- Circumstances that makes ME feel unsafe in the relationship?
- Possibilities: a lack of boundaries, ignoring my own feelings, staying even when I feel unsafe, not controlling my own anger, not following through on my commitments.
- How can I make our relationship a safe place for both of us?
Try exploring the above questions with your partner as an exercise: Answer individually and then come together to share your responses. Remember-keep the discussion SAFE.
You may be asking, where’s the power in all this. Great question! When you feel safe in your most intimate and close relationships then it gives you a confidence, an identity that can grow and flourish the more you feel loved, accepted and safe. This works both ways. As you feel more safe and extend that grace to your spouse they grow and flourish too. THERE’S THE POWER!!! You grow and flourish as individuals and as a couple. You basically get the advantage of two growing individuals by making each other feel safe.
Leave us a note or some comments below. We want to hear your thoughts on safety.
And, check back in for more on Safety in Relationships. We will explore actual Steps to Safety you can take to flesh out the attitudes, feelings and behaviors to make your relationships safe.