Men, Want More Hanky Panky & a Happier Partner?
According to John Gottman, renowned psychologist and relationship expert, women have two major complaints about men:
- He’s never there for me
- There isn’t enough intimacy and connection in the relationship
I’ve heard the same thing from many of my female clients struggling in their own relationships. It’s hard to have a naked relationship when they don’t feel like their male counterparts are truly there for them. It isn’t simply that they aren’t around enough or that they’re cheating, it’s that they aren’t there for them emotionally. They don’t feel like their men hear or understand them. Left unchecked, these disappointments can be the downfall of a relationship. When I talk about a having naked relationship, I am talking about one that’s emotionally open, but in this case, I am also talking about getting physically naked, too. If a woman doesn’t feel emotionally connected to her partner, odds are she isn’t going to want to have sex with him.
When my husband and I got married, one of his vows was that he would be a guardian of my soul. He promised to be there for me in every way—to listen to me, care for me, and safeguard my heart. For the 14 years we’ve been married, he’s stayed true to his word.
I’ll admit, he’s a rare breed, but one of the things that keeps our relationship so strong is our willingness to practice a simple skill everyday that Gottman refers to as attunement. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but when cultivated over time, it can truly transform a relationship.
Attunement essentially means you’re listening to your partner without judgment or pretense.
A – Awareness
T – Turning Toward
T – Tolerance
U – Understanding
N – Non-defensive Responding
E – Empathy
“When men ‘attune’ to their women,” Gottman explains, “there is less fighting, more frequent (and better) sex, and both men and women no longer feel so alone. The fights of many couples result from men dismissing women’s emotions instead of attuning to them. You dismiss woman’s emotions every time you try to fix them, distract her from them, minimize them, mock them, or ignore them altogether.”
Here are 10 ways to start attuning to your partner and strengthening your relationship today!
- Give your undivided attention when your partner is sharing with you. Put away your iPhone, turn off the TV.
- Make eye contact.
- Show genuine interest in trying to understand why she’s talking about a particular issue.
- Ask open-ended questions. For example, rather than simply asking “are you upset?” you might say, “You seem upset, is anything going on?”
- Listen without giving advice or immediately trying to fix the problem.
- Try to feel how she is feeling whether or not you agree.
- Validate how she’s feeling. “The emotional part of the brain calms down when it feels connected to another person and not alone. Show empathy,” Gottman suggests. How cool is that?
- Create opportunities for connection in small ways every day. For example, set aside 10 minutes every evening to share your day with no interruptions, or take turns giving each other a short massage.
- Identify shared goals. For example, maybe you both want to exercise more or plan a dream vacation together in the next 12 months.
- When you experience conflict, genuinely ask yourself: “Am I turning toward my partner, or am I turning away?”
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it can be easy to slip into bad habits and start to disregard your partner’s feelings. Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) talks about how many couples today are so isolated that they become each other’s sole emotional support system. So, if you’re not tuning into your partner’s needs, she can start to feel incredibly alone and alienated from the person she loves most.
It only takes a few small steps to reignite the connection between the two of you and bring back the spark that attracted you to each other in the first place. And remember, when she gets more of she wants from the relationship, you’ll get more of what you want—a happy partner and more sex!
If you are having trouble attuning to your partner book a consult with me to see how I can help.