So much success in relationships comes from the ability to make the other person feel safe and secure.
The primitive part of our brain needs to feel safe. If we don’t feel secure, it is very difficult to really concentrate on anything else.
We are in the middle of a huge cultural shift. While it’s an interesting time to live, this change can wreak havoc on our primary relationships. No matter what you think about the old rules, at least they provided a framework for interaction, which provided some stability for our relationships. Perhaps in a few billion years, our brains will have evolved to the point where safety is not as necessary as it is now. But for now and into the foreseeable future, it is absolutely necessary.
So where do we go from here? Glad you asked.
The first thing to remember about creating a safe environment is to employ kindness as the rule, not as the exception.
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Yes, we are stressed, we are frustrated, we don’t have enough time, we haven’t slept, we are overmedicated and underappreciated, etc. etc. Nevertheless, acting like a —– is not going to make your situation any better. Stop it. We can decide to be kind. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: You are upset because you are in the middle of doing three things at once, and your significant other is unaware and unhelpful. Instead of saying “Could I get some help here please?” you would say “Sweetie, could I ask you to help me do …? Thanks. I appreciate it.” Thanking people is ok! It does not mean that you are one down if you thank someone! Showing gratitude helps to create a safe environment! You have to decide if you want a close, fulfilling relationship, or if you want to “be right”. Hey, I’m giving you valuable information here. Oh, and don’t threaten. Don’t say the “D” word.
Another powerful tool is play.
And remember, the play has to be very safe. Don’t let it get scary or out of hand. Here is an example of what I’m talking about: As you pass each other in the kitchen, lightly pinch your sweetie’s posterior, and then act like it wasn’t you. Laugh at his/her jokes. Little tiny things that let the other person know you like him/her. Not talking about sex here. Not even talking about committed deep love. Talking about semi-flirty friendship. That kind of play. Playing is very therapeutic. Try it.
Another way of promoting safety is by paying attention to your house.
Your house does NOT need to look like a magazine. In fact, sometimes that is counterproductive. Here are a few ideas that will help you start thinking of your house as a means to convey safety and security to everyone who lives there, and even people who come for a visit.
- Good smells from cooking, fresh air, and even scented candles
- Comforting lighting
- Comfortable seating
- Healthy plants
- Soft throws and pillows
- A place to play Scrabble or other games
- Soft music
- A place to come together and a place to be alone
If your house is in a mess right now, don’t let these ideas overwhelm you. Houses get messy. Your house does not ever have to be “perfect” to be comforting and welcoming.
One last thought:
Think of your significant other as a five year old, or as a pet who has had a bad experience and needs some extra TLC. Even if (s)he is the president of a multibillion dollar corporation or a neurosurgeon, EVERYONE needs to feel safe and secure. his need is hardly ever spoken of, and hardly ever acknowledged, but it is powerful. Learn the skills of calming, soothing, and comforting. One day you’ll thank me.