When partners talk about something they are excited how the other partner responds makes a huge difference. Recognizing what is at stake helps avoid misfires.
Jennifer and Raul
ennifer had just learned that she was being promoted to her long-held dream job at her current company. There where two other candidates, and she got the call. Jennifer had worked very hard to earn the title and the income that went with this promotion. Jennifer could now take leadership in her division, the first time a woman held this position.
Jennifer had not told Raul yet. She wanted this to be a special moment they could share, but how? Then she came up with the idea to tell him the news at Fort Funston Beach. She wanted to walk to the same spot on the bluffs where she first told Raul her goals and hopes for the future. She remembered his supportive comments and confidence in her achieving whatever she set in her heart.
Jennifer wondered, was she being too dramatic? She didn’t care, so what! This was a special moment and it seemed like a great and creative idea. Raul knew what this would mean to her.
Jennifer suggested they go to the beach and out to dinner that night, stating she really needed to get out. Raul thought it was a great idea, but didn’t ask her why. She had a hard time suppressing a smile. She suspected he might know why, Raul knew that the announcement for this position could be made at any time.
They got to the beach and headed toward their spot on the bluff. Jennifer kept waiting for Raul to ask her about the job announcement and how she thought things were going. He didn’t ask. He didn’t ask why she needed to go out that night.
Jennifer felt a little impatient, slightly irritated, but chalked it up to her excitement. They got to the scenic spot, and she couldn’t wait any longer to tell him. She felt like she was going to burst.
“Guess what? I got the position!” Raul looked at her and responded with, “That’s great Jen!”. When do you start, will we be able to get away for that week we talked about?”
Jennifer kept looking at him waiting for him to ask her what this meant to her and how she felt about achieving one of her dreams. Raul wasn’t trying to be mean, she knew he was happy for her. However, internally Jennifer felt alone in her joyous moment.
Try This Instead
Building trust really boils down to partners not feeling alone. It does not matter whether partners are feeling stressed and anxious or feeling victorious and happy. What is important is that partners do not feel alone in their low or high moments of life.
A couple’s ability to stay present to each other in both good and bad moments creates a solid foundation for the relationship. The term “emotional attunement” refers to the feeling that “my partner gets me, my emotions, and accepts me.”
When Raul and Jennifer discussed what happened, Raul was able to acknowledge his response was hurtful. We are not perfect beings, so letting each other know what we need is important. The second conversation went well at the beach and during their lovely crab cioppino dinner that night.