Re-establishing Intimacy After an Argument or a Separation
What follows from this advice applies to disconnection in relationships, no matter how deep and no matter how long it has persisted. Whether your relationship becomes periodically disconnected in the heat of a moment or you have resorted to a full-blown legal separation, you can employ these techniques to get back to firmer ground with each other. In fact, it is very important for you to see how both of these types of disconnection (of vast disparity) can shine light and wisdom on each other.
What I have found is that it is very typical for the most disconnected couples to have an urge to try to expend a level of energy in proportion to the magnitude of the distance. Couples that have minor spats tend to employ subtle and healthier techniques to get back on firmer ground, at least in relation to the amount of energy exerted. Imagine that you were once at the peak of Mt. Everest and had to leave due to stormy conditions. You will feel the urge to be immediately back up at the position that you left off at before things forced you to leave. Well, in the most severe cases of disconnection, many individuals actually try to kick-start their relationship by skipping all the way to the final step, they try to behave as if nothing had happened and tried to jump instantly back into sexual intimacy and behaviors that are characteristic of a more established relationship. The problem is that love is built like a pyramid, and building a pyramid from the top down is demanding that the laws of physics be suspended for a moment of time. Regardless of the disconnection, we have to take a particular approach towards rebuilding intimacy.
This brings us to what I call Layering. Layering is a communication technique, but more than that; it gives you a mental picture of the structure being built or rebuilt. Use of this technique is a much more obvious foundational principle to employ, as you can practically witness the results of the communicative effort. If your effort fails, you can see it (visibly in your mind) and not proceed too far, as a result.
So what is Layering Then?
Layering is a technique that allows individuals to assess gradually the state of the relationship. It is also a technique that you can use for every single communication with your partner although it is employed a bit differently when the relationship is solid. When you are looking to rebuild a connection in your relationship, you have first to assess the situation. Just as a fire has different causes, you have to use the appropriate fire extinguisher, so that you may put out the flame, while not making it spread further. Layering assists in the assessment, and the rebuilding.
You will employ Layering by beginning first with surface issues or surface observations. It could be something as simple as:
You: “I really enjoyed that meal.”
Your partner: “That’s nice.”
What you will notice in this example is that the response to your first layer did not really add anything to the structure of the foundation. In light of this, what is your next course of action? Well, it sure would not be to rush towards asking them to the bedroom or asking them on a date. There is not sufficient connectedness to support these deeply intimate activities. You have to stay at the surface level until your partner adds to the structure. This does not mean that you should run off and play victim. This does not mean that you should ignore them or give a cold shoulder. You have to stay persistent in this effort, regardless of your perceptions of them and your feelings of being taken for granted. After all, you want a strong relationship, so your words and efforts have to follow your intent.
So what would it look like if your partner added a layer to the structure?
You: “I really enjoyed that meal.”
Your partner: “I know, it’s my favorite.”
In this, there has been some actual input from your partner, and this can leave you both feeling a bit more connected. Now that there are two layers (yours and theirs), you can add to it with a more intimate response. The idea is to become progressively closer and to do this you have to be a bit adventurous, as you are casting a line out into the water and waiting for your partner to catch it. It can feel rather disappointing if your partner disregards your communication, especially if you made an attempt at a hail mary, by jumping the gun. Keep this endeavor gradual, so that if they don’t reciprocate, you have firm ground very close to you. When you make a hail mary, trying to skip steps, you will find that there is no structure under you, causing you to fall a long way, and experience a great amount of emotional hurt.
The next layer:
You: “We should make that meal again sometime soon.”
Your partner: “That would be great.”
You: “But maybe we could eat out tomorrow evening.”
Your partner: “I don’t feel like going out.”
So you see that you have established two complete layers of communication, being progressively more intimate. In this example, you tried to establish the third layer, and it was not supported. But, you still have the second layer to support the relationship upon. You will continue communicating at this level until level three is established. As the levels progress, they become more intimate, involving emotional elements, rather than simple observations. Your partner does not have to reciprocate. Your partner does not have to escalate to higher levels, and in fact, pushing the issue with force will only push them away.