I now think that the quickest way to improve a relationship is to remove any negativity from the Space Between. The goal is zero negativity. In the past, I would have couples look at their childhood history, or their history with other partners and get some insight into what might be causing the problems today. I am not against insight but for me now, I believe it is more important for couples to focus on how they treat each other in the Space Between on a daily basis. That is where the healing will take place.
What We Think of Relationships
Typically we think of a relationship as two people, you and you. I want to challenge you rather to think of your relationship as not just the two of you, but the two of you and the Space Between. The Space Between is a real energy field, and you can tell, can’t you, when there is tension in the Space Between. That energy field is either tension free or it is not; there is no middle ground.
I am not an expert on Quantum Theory, far from it. Carlo Rovelli, the New York Times bestselling author, is an expert. In his book Helgoland Making sense of the quantum revolution, he states:
“The discovery of quantum theory, I believe, is the discovery that the properties of any entity are nothing other than the way in which that entity influences others. It exists only through its interactions. Quantum theory is the theory of how things influence each other.” P. 77
A Net of Relations
“Instead of seeing the physical world as a collection of objects with definite properties, quantum theory invites us to see the physical world as a net of relations … This is a radical leap. It is equivalent to saying that everything consists solely of the way in which it affects something else.” p. 79
To be very honest, I am sure I didn’t understand a tenth of what he wrote in Helgoland, but one critical take away for me was the importance of how two people interact in the Space Between. (Quantum theory is the theory of how things influence each other.)
Zero Negativity in the Space Between
Think of the Space Between as a pond of water, very still, completely smooth. If I throw a rock in there, it sends ripples out in all directions; you can’t block them; they radiate outward and affect everything in their path. One rock probably won’t do much; 50 rocks will agitate the pond significantly. Similarly, if I put one negative interaction in the Space Between, it probably won’t do much. 50 bits of negativity will so some serious damage. Going back to Quantum theory, if the goal of an intimate relationship, as one tiny example of the bigger universe, is to be connected, is to be in relationship, negativity causes disconnect. Logically it is impossible to have a great relationship if there is negativity. Negativity creates anxiety; if you are anxious you don’t feel safe, and if you don’t feel safe it is hard to be intimate.
The Fastest Way Forward
In a relationship, the fastest way forward, it seems to me, is to commit to zero negativity in the Space Between. Granted this is new territory and I am just feeling my way forward. After I had my hip replaced, the first session with my physiotherapist was simply to get a baseline of what I could and could not do. Every week we compare and see the progress. I have begun asking couples to track for a week, the amount of negativity they are putting in the Space Between.
Let’s get a baseline. If there are 10 bits, can they aim for 5; if 100, 50, but let’s get a baseline of where they are at. This is a work in progress but it seems clear to me, you can’t keep throwing negativity into the Space Between and expect to have a great relationship. It is like throwing rocks into the pond. The eventual goal is zero negativity in the Space Between but couples need to start where they are now.
The caveat, of course, is that it is the person on the receiving end who determines if it is negative or not. I could say I was just kidding, but if it is experienced as negative by my partner, I am the one who needs to change.
The flip side of the coin, would then be to refill the Space Between with positives – with appreciations and affirmations. I encourage couples to say them out loud: “Thanks a lot, I appreciate it when you …., you did a great job, etc.” From an old brain point of view, if you are constantly hearing positives from your partner, your old brain can relax. This is not the enemy over there; this is my ally; we are on the same team.
Just as the direct anterior approach to my hip replacement was more effective and efficient, I think a quicker and more effective way to heal a relationship is to pay closer attention to the Space Between. It is a real energy field and you want to protect it. It is holy ground, sacred space. You don’t want to put any negativity into the Space Between but rather fill it with as much positive energy as you can.
Read PART 2 of this blog here.