Healthy Relationship Practices: The Couple Bubble

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image by: Jorinde Berben

I spent the first hour of this weekend in bed finishing the book ‘Wired for Love‘ by couples’ therapist Stan Tatkin. The book describes, explains and illustrates techniques to create a relationship that both partners can fall back on. Stan Tatkin speaks of ‘the couple bubble‘: a union in which both partners can feel safe and secure; a home base which each can fall back on for anything big or small.

The book was both enlightening and confronting for me. It described a degree of intimacy that, most of the time, I’m not 100% comfortable with yet. From divulging every single thought in your mind to making your partner your top priority (I have children!), some of his suggestions are still way out of my comfort zone.

But as my partner and I were talking yesterday afternoon and evening, expressing how we felt about each other, I realised that you get to create your own couple bubble, incorporating what really matters to you as a team, and supporting the needs of each individual partner.

Since I deal with avoidant attachment issues (and my partner doesn’t when it comes to our relationship) our needs sometimes conflict. I may feel an urgent desire for space at times when he needs my emotional support. I may be sparse with words whereas he looks forward to every text message. At times it feels like one partner has to put their needs aside for the other. Or I have felt that I couldn’t be who my partner needed me to be.

But building a couple bubble is not about being the perfect couple, or the perfect partner. What I felt and learned yesterday is that it’s about realising that what helps your partner has a direct effect on your own wellbeing as well. When I tell my partner I’m his and he’s mine, when I express my love, it makes him feel safe and secure. When he feels secure, his fear that I might leave is less likely to come up. And that fear happens to be a trigger of my fear of attachment as well.

We also don’t focus solely on each other’s needs, but we try to figure out what we need as a couple. What makes our union more intimate? What helps us build the strongest base from which we can launch ourselves out into the day? What makes us feel safe with eachother?

This weekend we had planned to do our first couple weekend together: A weekend to guide couples to more harmony, closeness and honesty. Since we started our advertising very late (and Covid is on the rise again) there were not enough participants this time around. Instead it gave us a chance to dive even deeper into what kind of union we want to create as equal partners, lovers and best friends. A union in which we can both lift each other up when we’re on top, and pick each other up when we fall. And we do this by talking, by asking for what we need, by saying when we’re uncomfortable and by not keeping things from eachother just to ‘keep the peace’. Through every challenge we meet, we grow stronger.

I’m so grateful to have a partner to do this with. And so excited to share this style of relating with the rest of the world!

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