Are You There For Me?
Our families are filled with people—spouses, children, us—who crave connection. But you already know that. You have experienced that craving in yourself and seen it in others, I’m sure. In fact, the #1 goal of arguments is connection. We desire emotional connection with one another. Emotional connection makes us secure. It communicates our acceptance. And fortunately, we can nurture emotional connection with our family. It is nurtured by everyday interactions. Each time we respond to our spouse, our children, or our parents, we build trust and emotional connection. We communicate acceptance. We let them know that “we are there for them.” Ironically, even benign statements open the door to building emotional connection, if and when we respond. For instance:
- “It’s a beautiful day today” becomes more than a comment about the day. It’s an invitation to engage, a request to “join me in paying attention to something I find interesting.”
- Your response to “Can you grab me a drink while you’re up?” becomes the answer to the silent question of “Will you listen and respond to my simple requests? Will you help me?”
- “How do you like this recipe? It’s the first time I tried it” is an invitation to show interest or excitement in “my experimentation and my accomplishments, my life.”
- “Did you have a good day?” seeks more than a simple “yes/no” response. It’s a request for you to take the time to share your day. Your response answers the silent question, “Will you take the time to share your life with me?”
- “I’m exhausted” becomes an invitation to “help me destress and relax.”
- “Remind me when we get home to tell you what happened” is an invitation to have a private conversation and hear something about my day.
These statements often sound like simple conversation starters, but they are much more. They are open doors inviting you into greater emotional connection. Take the time to respond, walk through the door, and connect emotionally with your family. Each time you do, you answer an important, albeit silent, question everyone asks within their relationships, a question asked indirectly through subtle statements like those above: “Are you there for me?” Answer wisely. Be present. Respond. Connect.