When I was a teenager, I was too insecure and anxious to state how I felt about something, specifically when it was different than what my parents believed or if I thought it would upset them.
Instead, I would write notes to them..
When I got a bad grade, I’d write a note to let them know.
When I wanted to go to see Genesis in concert and I thought they wouldn’t let me…I wrote a note explaining my rationale and reasons. (Phil Collins! In the Air Tonight!)
And I agonized over every word.
I agonized partly because I was an angsty teen and partly because I was trying to find my voice.
As the youngest of 3 children, it seemed that everyone else could express their thoughts, ideas and opinions much more easily than me.
I spent a lot of time observing adults and my older siblings, wishing I could be as self-assured as them, or as accomplished at roller skating as my sister and brother. (Hey, it was the 70’s!)
The letters I wrote were my way of speaking up. I had a hard time trying to persuade them in face-to-face interactions. I would freeze up and go silent, or cry.
Have you ever had an issue that was extremely important to you, but felt you couldn’t bring it up to your partner?
Maybe you just know they will get upset at the mere mention of the subject because that’s what has happened in the past.
Or maybe it’s a topic you’ve never broached with them and you worry it will damage the relationship irreparably.
An essential goal for a healthy relationship is this:
Be able to bring up ANYTHING and everything with each other.
Not alcohol use. Not sex. Not the in-laws. Not finances. Not personal hygiene…
You get the idea.
And there are 2 key elements to doing this successfully.
1. You need a WAY to bring up issues that is inviting and respectful. (This is something I teach people).
2. You both have the foundational belief that you are a team and, if one of you has a problem, then you BOTH have a problem, and it’s in your best interest to address it.
Carol Gilligan, a famous feminist family therapist, states “There is no voice without relationship, and there is no relationship without voice.”
Each person’s wants, needs, desires, thoughts, and feelings need to be valued in order for there to be a genuine, truly intimate relationship.
AND, every voice requires that a relationship of connection and care be present in order for that person to matter, to be valued, and to truly belong.
Do you and your partner have an underlying agreement that ANY and EVERY topic is open for discussion?
I encourage you to check in and see what they think. And if you are fearful of bringing up certain topics, find a way to let them know.
Starting with a note is a good way to begin.
Share this post with them. Perhaps it will generate a discussion that brings you closer to the truly intimate connection you long for.