Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cultivating Attachment Moments

Part 1: Hello's and Goodbye's

Not all moments are created equal.

There are particular moments in our relationships that are much more important than other moments. Learning how to recognize significant moments and use them to keep your relationship strong, or to strengthen your struggling relationship can make a lot of difference.

Recognizing and acting on attachment significant moments is something we do when we have high emotional intelligence. The people that recognize and act mindfully at significant attachment moments have thriving relationships.

Attachment moments are times our loved one is
  1. coming or going
  2. having a heightened emotional experience, or
  3. in emotional need.
Times of coming and going, or reunion and departure, are the easiest to start putting in effort for the lasting love payoff.

To get started follow this rule:

Make a personal connection at each reunion and departure.

Include multiple points of connection. Points of contact are ways we reach out to each other, verbally and non-verbally. Points of contact engage your senses. For most romantic partners comfortable senses to engage include sight, sound, touch and emotion. So look at your partner (have eye contact if possible), speak to him/her, touch him/her and send a smile (positive, warm feeling). The more points of cotact you make the stronger the impact you will have. If it takes physical movement to make more points of contact that also adds strength to the attachment impact.

I know a woman who loved her father-in-law. Adored him. He was in ill health, didn't get around well and was somewhat crotchety. He did one thing consistently over the years. Whenever she and the kids would drop in he pulled himself out of his chair, a painful thing to do, got up, walked over and greeted her. It was a big effort for him. She would tell him, "oh, don't get up", "you don't need to do that", "please, just stay there." Never-the-less, over the years everytime she came over he got up out of his chair, limped over and greeted her - always including a hug. She said what endeared her to him so much was that greeting, she knew she was important to him and was reminded of it everytime he pulled himself out of his chair.

Marcella and Robert make it a point to blow kisses everyday when one of them leaves for work. One watches through the window as the other backs out of the driveway, then they exchange waves and blow kisses. What a great send off.

Curtis and Veronica stop what they are doing when either comes into the room after being apart all day, stand up and give each other a hug and kiss.

Waking and sleeping are also significant attachment moments. In essence going to sleep is a parting and waking is reunion. So making a conscious effort to greet your partner kindly in the morning and checking out warmly before sleep is also important.

At the end of everyday, no matter the hour or the mood at the time, Amy and Travis' last words to anyone in the world are to each other, "good night, I love you."

Think of what it would be like to never leave the house without a loving send off, to consistently be greeted with kindness after time apart, to begin and end the day with the reassurance that you matter. If in times of stress, tension, and anger with each other you still practiced loving greetings and send offs, if you still made an effort to have several points of contact, the less arguments would matter, the sting would go out of the last bad comment faster, you would feel much more tenderness and softness towards each other.

If you're not doing it already, create special greetings and special good-byes. Make that a habit and you will notice your bond strengthening and the tension between you reducing. If you are already doing well with reunions and departures, that's great! You've learned somewhere about positive bonding and creating significant attachment moments.

After practicing routinely the rule: Make a personal connection at each reunion and departure (no matter the mood, moment, or inconvenience) the next step, learning how to respond when you or your partner is having a peak experience, will come much easier.


Attachment Rule
#1. Make a personal connection at each reunion and departure.

#2. More points of contact increase the impact of the personal connection.


Do you need to acknowledge each reunion and departure?
It can create more warmth and contact in your relationship.

Is leaving the room for a few minutes considered a departure?
It is a departure. It's not as significant a departure as parting for the day or a longer time.
So, a personal connection with fewer points of contact is suitable such as "I'll be right back," or "I'm going to go get ____."

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