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Show Me Your Cards: The Importance of Conscious Communication in Intimate Relationship

Do you find that your relationship communication like a poker game? Do you and your partner put on your best face to prevent them from seeing how you really feel? Our intimate relationship is the primary place that reveals all of us – even the parts that we may want to hide. We work hard to only show the cards we want  our partner to see, while hiding the most valuable ones, or hiding the full hand!  This type of tit-for-tat is what makes reality TV so popular in our culture –  the inherent truth beneath the over-the-top madness can be both comical and frightening.

While we play the game of fight to win, we also long to reveal ourselves to our partners, to allow ourselves to be seen, and we long for our partners to do the same. We want to understand and be understood. But how can we expect vulnerability and connection in the middle of a battlefield?

In my office, I often hear clients state that certain important elements are missing: trust, safety, and communication. These elements are often coupled with the absence of emotional and sexual closeness. The reality is that these elements are all woven into the fabric of the relationship – pull on one string and it unravels the whole tapestry.

In order to stop the game, lean into your partner, and inspire each other to grow, communication must include the following elements:

  • Take responsibility for your feelings & their expression
  • Be willing to be genuinely curious and open-hearted
  • Make genuine repair attempts
  • Be willing to accept differences & appreciate similarities
  • Make regular deposits in the love bank

Laying down new relationship patterns take time and focus, after all, not many of us went to “healthy relationship school.” Most of us learned from families that tried their best but were not experts themselves. The good news is, healthy communication is possible!

— Melissa Walker, MA, R-DMT
Psychotherapy for Embodied Intimacy