Yes that’s right, we’re talking about a gift that can start improve your relationship immediately. What if we told you that this gift had the power to really affect how you relate to another person? Guess what? There really is such a gift — the gift of presence! Now, we’re not talking about “presents,” the kind you give for Christmas or birthdays; the presence that we mean is your personal presenceyour full attention with an agenda-free willingness to listen to what the other person has to say.
Presence is a gift we could all use on a regular basis. This gift creates a kind of intimacy that you and your marriage have been longing for.
“If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.” – Marge Piercy
~How to Present Your Presence~
Before you can truly give someone your presence, you need to take yourself out of the equation. Giving the gift of presence means that you’re there for the other person 100%, without thinking about how their words or actions affect you. In other words, when they start to talk about their perception of the situation, you can’t take things personally. It helps to remember that everything everyone does or says is in support of something they value. If you choose to give the gift of your presence and in the middle of it you start feeling upset, try to imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself the question, “What could I be valuing that would have me say or do this?”
As an example, let’s say you ask your spouse to tell you what they would like to have in their relationship with you. You ask, “What kinds of things would create more intimacy in our marriage for you?” In response, you might hear something like, “You need to stop acting like such a know-it-all.”
At this point STOP — remember that what they just said is NOT about you and don’t take it personally.
Believe it or not, your partner just gave you a precious gift wrapped up inside the message, “I want you to stop being such a know-it-all.” This message is the key to unlocking a value that is incredibly important to them.
Now you can ask yourself, “I wonder what they value that’s missing for them in our relationship?” Doing so allows you to be present to the meaning that is underneath their words. This allows you the opportunity to try and understand what value might prompt them to say such a thing.
For example, you might guess that they value acknowledgment and want some appreciation for all the things they know, or maybe they just want the opportunity to contribute more to the relationship. It’s even possible that all they really want is a deeper sense of connection with you. Of course, you won’t know if your guess is accurate without checking with them first, so take this opportunity to ask them!
If nothing you suggest strikes a chord for your partner, ask them for help in understanding the value beneath the message. The worst thing that could happen is for them to respond with another judgment or criticism, which will give you another opportunity to identify what it is that they really want. If you guess accurately the first time, continue exploring the things that are most important to them.
“The beginning of wisdom is silence. The second step is listening.” ~Anonymous
You’ve probably heard the old Navaho Indian saying: “The best way to get to know a person is to walk a mile in their moccasins.” As a general rule, people tend to walk about 2 1/2 miles per hour, so it takes around 24 minutes to walk a mile. Try giving your partner your undivided presence for a half an hour.
During this time spend ZERO minutes defending yourself, being right, educating them, giving them advice, or anything else other than focusing all your attention on the things that they value–the things that are important to them. Once you can identify the values that drive their actions, you’ll find it much easier to understand the reasons behind their words.
The best thing about this special gift is that it doesn’t cost a thing and you have a limitless supply. Start giving the gift of presence today and see how much closeness, connection and intimacy you get in return.