Jungle Love and Communication

How do you “call back” your partner when you’ve lost connection?

I recently had an experience with my spouse Gord that brought some clarity on the things we do well, and the things we’re still learning about. The circumstance reminded me of an old Zen story about being lost in the jungle.

It’s as though Gord and I are on a path together in the jungles of life and, although we do our best to plan and organize our navigations, sometimes we get off track. In a recent argument, we disconnected and went off in different directions which created an emotional disconnection. It felt as though we went off our jungle life path and, for a period of time, I felt disoriented and lonely.

Because of this situation, I discovered a few interesting things about our relationship. For one, Gord and I have done well by communicating specific ways we can “call back” one another when we’re emotionally distant. It works in an analogous way as how birds call out to others so they can connect. For us, a call back can be as simple as initiating a hug, even if we don’t talk, a hug can be an effective way to bond after being in conflict. Secondly, I realize that when we go off in our own directions one of us often discovers something new that adds value to our relationship. For example, I explored some new behaviours. Even though I was tempted to fall back into old patterns of being stubborn and resistant, which would compound the distance, I chose to smile, soften my body language and be open to hearing his perspective.

Those are the highlights of things we’re doing well. What we’re still working on is a pattern that feeds our disconnection and I can relate it to Froma Walsh’s three ideas that get overlooked when we face challenges in communication with family. The ideas are; clarity, open emotional sharing, and collaborative problem solving.

Here’s a summary of how it relates to my patterns with Gord, perhaps you can relate.

  1. We become stressed about work/family/health
  2. We lose patience and become unclear when expressing ourselves
  3. We feel vulnerable, scared, guilty, etc. and we don’t want to express our feelings
  4. We become stuck in our own perceptions of what’s going on and find it very difficult to collaborate with one another

For those of you who would like to learn more, click here for a worksheet you can use with your own family.

Being off track is not necessarily a bad thing and can lead to a wonderful opportunity for strengthening relationship bonds. My suggestion is to make every effort to notice when you’re off track and signal to the other as soon as possible. I encourage you to have a conversation with your loved ones this month about whether you want to tweet, bark, meow, ribbit… and how this will present in your behaviours. The idea works well with children too!

Thanks for reading and I send all my best,