Creating Magic in Your Relationship, Part 1: Your Relationship’s Rhythm
At long last, Coldplay released their new single “Magic” earlier this month, and as a longtime fan, I’ve been listening to the soulful, intimate tune a lot in recent weeks. The song takes its name from the “magic” that the singer experiences when he’s with his beloved partner. Even if you’re not a Coldplay fan, chances are you’ve felt the magic that happens when you’re really connected to another person, when you feel known and understood, recognized and cherished. As much as we want this magic, though, it’s not as easy as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. So how does it happen?
Can’t see the video? Watch it here.
Start by carefully tuning in to the rhythm of your relationship. Each of us has an emotional rhythm of our own, a way that we “be” with ourselves and our feelings. It’s how we interpret and make sense of our experiences, listen to the hum of our emotions, and manage our feelings. Therapists and psych majors call this self-regulation. In intimate relationships, partners together create a rhythm of the relationship as they interact and affect each other (interactive regulation). Frank Lachmann (2008) captures how this happens:
Both self- and interactive regulation include the ways in which both partners negotiate degrees of emotional closeness and distance, intimacy and detachment. Through words, body language, tone, vocal rhythm, and expressions of empathic understanding, each partner can regulate . . . themselves and the other.
One of the reasons why listening to the rhythm of your relationship takes work is that intimate partners regularly (and quite normally) dysregulate each other: Couples interact all the time in ways that create anger, hurt, pain, sadness, and other painful feelings for one or both partners. So when there’s a rupture in the rhythm, it’s important get back in the groove of connection by rolling up your sleeves and repairing the disruption. I’ll share some thoughts I have about how you can do that in Part 2.