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Creating a Safe Relationship

Creating a Safe Relationship

How to ensure your marriage is accepting, warm and supportive.


How does it feel to be in a safe relationship, one that is accepting, warm and supportive?

It feels like:

I trust that my partner wants what’s best for me

He is on my side and is not my adversary

He is concerned for my well being

He is emotionally available, present.

He is able to see or at least try to see beyond himself.

He is not going to use my weakness/vulnerabilities against me.

He is not shaming, blaming, critical or judgmental.

He is appreciative, warm, supportive.

He is willing to share his vulnerable feelings.

He is genuinely interested in my world, my emotions, my day.

He is reliable, consistent.

Reading this list may feel affirming and clarifying. But it may also highlight what is lacking in one’s relationship, thereby creating greater dissatisfaction. Perhaps one could reframe the list. Instead of reading it as what I do or don’t have, it could be visualized as a set of goals or a relationship vision. I am conscious of and grateful for what I do have. Regarding what is lacking, I will formulate as goals to work towards or challenges to overcome.

A relationship is a two way street where we constantly try to balance each of ourselves as two parts of a complex whole. While it is essential to be aware of one’s own needs in our relationship, in equal measure, we strive to be aware of and attempt to meet the needs of our partner.

So ask yourself: How can I create a safe relationship for my partner?

Creating a safe relationship means that I:

Listen, not just in order to respond but to try and understand.

I don’t judge or analyze.

I don’t give advice unless specifically asked to do so.

I am curious, interested to understand and know my partner more fully.

I look for the good, give the benefit of the doubt, show appreciation.

I take his feelings seriously.

I share my own feelings and ask for what I need; I don’t assume he is a mind reader.

I accept imperfection.

I explain my own mood, irritability, unavailability.

I try to share my difficulties in a non-attacking, critical way.

I take responsibility for my own emotions

I take initiative to build the relationship.

I am emotionally present.

I try to see beyond myself.

Yes, this is a lot of work, but it’s not about achieving perfection in all these areas. Rather it is about setting goals, creating an awareness, working on weak areas, and growing step by step.

Being in a safe relationship means that one can risk bringing up difficult issues without being scared of the outcome. It means one can say no sometimes without being afraid of the consequence. It means one can share difficult feelings and not be ridiculed or taken lightly. It means one can talk and trust that it will be heard. It is a feeling of and security. It means one can make mistakes or get things wrong and it won’t be the end of the world. It means that there can be conflict but we can get through it. There can be differences but they don’t break the bond. It means we want the connection even when it’s imperfect and we can hold the connection when stress and problems threaten it.

Sometimes a third party is needed to facilitate the creating of a safe space and to help understand what is preventing safety in the relationship.

It is not enough to feel the need to be in a safe relationship; it’s up to both husband and wife to continuously work on creating this kind of relationship.

July 16, 2016

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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Devora Levy, August 3, 2016 11:15 AM

Interesting response

I loved this article. It gives one food for thought about what one's relationship vision is or could be. It made me appreciate what I have and strive for what I don't.
The truth is there's something about Scott's comment that I loved too. It's alive and real. But I couldn't help but wonder if your wife would agree with you. Yes it's refreshing to see that you're accepting of your relationship as it is, but shouldn't we always be striving for more too? Perhaps as we grow in our relationships it's good to keep in mind that life and people are complex, that we're busy and we can still 'love the heck out of each other' along that journey. And perhaps I'd also challenge you that as much as you feel you'd prefer not to discuss feelings with your wife, give it a try, it can bring your relationship to a whole new level, even better than it is now. And even more interesting.

(2) Nancy, July 25, 2016 11:47 AM

To Scott

Have you been listening to the monologue in my brain? :-) Lol. Without going into details, it has been a rough 24 hours. Kol tuv.

(1) Scott, July 23, 2016 9:32 PM

Uhhm. I gotta say....yeah....I don't want that kind of marriage. My wife doesn't either.

We are sometimes mean and selfish and fight and are definitely unsafe at most speeds. We're kinda busy with kids and well life. We love the heck out of each other.

I expect my wife to judge me- i gave her that right when I married her- I need her to butt in and give advice, especially when I don't want it. It's one of the reasons I decided to marry a Jewish woman. They make Jewish men better.

I'm pretty sure that when my wife has to share her difficulties in a non attacking way it's usually something I did. And my first instinct is to apologize, early and often, and try not to do it again.

If she's taking responsibility for her emotions, her emotions she's taking responsibility for probably have to do with the paragraph above and well again I just usually apologize. See I'm self aware enough to understand those emotions are probably in response to something stupid I did.

She has permission to be angry at me and on occasion say things that are hurtful. I'll get over it. But she'll never get over having to hold it in. And vice versa.

I'm a man and gave up on really trying to understand my wife's moods a long time ago. I listen as much as I can, but will never fully understand. But I think listening is probably enough...she really doesn't want my input most of the time.

I'd prefer never to talk about my feelings. And I respect my wife enough not to share my vulnerabilities unless I really need her help. She already has children to raise. She needs a man.

And I don't have imperfections. Neither does she. Because perfection isn't a real thing. We're just ourselves.

We're very different creatures that come together and make a whole. We're equal in importance and need each other, but definately not the same.

That's what makes it interesting.

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