The Only Connection Skill You Are Likely to Need

This is a preview. The full article appears in Neil's book: Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship

Dear Neil: Can you help me repair my relationship? The lady in my life and I have lost the ability to be close with each other. Here’s how a typical conversation between us goes: Me: “How was your day?” Her: “I’m annoyed. I feel like I’m a verbal punching bag at work. I’m in a bad mood.” Me: “Well you’re not at work now. Let’s do something fun.” Her: “You do it. I don’t want to do anything tonight.”

I know she is disturbed by things not going well at work, but she won’t let me bring her out of her funk, and she’s almost always in a miserable frame of mind, so it’s very unpleasant to be around her for any length of time. Any suggestions as to what I can do?

Feeling Disconnected in Denver

Dear Feeling Disconnected: Perhaps the only real connection skill is to be able to “step inside the puddle” with someone else. “Stepping into the puddle” refers to conscious emotional attunement to another person, meaning you have to temporarily stop being so concerned about your own feelings, needs and desires, and instead tune into how your mate is feeling, and what it’s like emotionally to feel the feelings she’s going through.

This asks of you to temporarily let go of your critical judgments and emotions in order to be emotionally available to your intimate partner. Stepping into the puddle with someone else is about temporarily joining them with your presence, your response, your touch and your heartfelt participation:

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