Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Intimate relationships can be a healing place. Moments of tension, stress and conflict in your relationship can actually be times for healing.
I met with a new couple this past week. They did not wait long in our first session before they allowed a disagreement to start. The husband became quite irritated with his wife's perspective of the relationship and began to discount her opinion and interrupted her repeatedly.
I asked the husband if he would be willing to take a more positive approach to the conflict. Tentatively, he agreed. I suggested that he take a healing presence with his wife. Sometimes, when one partner is hurting, the other needs to take time to care for their partner, without emphasis on themselves.
The concept of healing presence is not about what you do in a conversation, but how you can be in a conversation. When one partner is in the healing presence of their partner, they create deeper intimacy in the conversation that can lead to greater insight, connection and trust.
My definition of healing presence is that you are consciously and compassionately in the present moment with your partner. Here are a number of ways "to be" a healing presence for your partner:
A healing presence requires you to be a compassionate listener. A compassionate listener will stay grounded in their own emotions and focus on the feelings of their partner. They will encourage their partner to explore their feelings with them.
A healing presence requires you to be accepting of your partner without transference. You need to experience your partner as who they are in the present moment, not carrying in your own past hurts or resentments and placing them into the conversation.
A healing presence requires you to be affirming of your partner's concerns and look hard to find what is valid in your partner's perspective.
Be attuned to the emotional experience of what is being said. Compassionately tuning-in to the emotional content of the discussion can be soft, soothing and healing.
Be affectionate from the beginning of the conversation and throughout the conversation.
With infidelity recovery, it is the utmost importance that the betraying partner listen and validate the concerns of the hurt partner. Many conversations become difficult when the betraying partner does not work to understand the impact of the infidelity.
Experiential Activity: Structure some time as a listening session with a short time frame, in which the betraying partner takes the role of the healing presence and that partner only listens, validates and empathizes. The hurt partner take the time to share their concerns, without escalation. The betraying partner should BE present in that moment, let their partner's perspective stand, be compassionate and understanding, and empathize with the emotional content. Make agreement that you will do this as a couple 5 times. Your relationship needs this for recovery.