Ten years ago, I married my second best friend, my partner Noah (I being my first best friend.) At our marriage ceremony, which spanned over a weekend with loved ones, we were given a book of ‘advice’ on how to cultivate and create a strong partnership.
Honestly, most of the advice wasn’t so good. We even had to tear out a few pages because it was so bad. Things like “Have fun now because when you have kids it’s all over.” Yikes!
But there were a few gems in there that came mostly from our spiritual mentors, men and women who had been in true partnership with each other for many years.
One of these gems came in the form of a very simple yet so powerful ‘ritual’ that Noah and I adopted early on. I attribute this ritual to our ability to stay connected and close to each other even during the most difficult, stressful, busy and overwhelming times and create the kind of partnership most desire but have a hard time creating.
Let’s face it. When we get married or we choose to be in partnership with another person, we have the best intentions of being there for each other. We choose to be in relationship because as humans we do need to be witnessed and heard. We need reflection and acknowledgement. But just living our day to day lives with jobs, families, travel and responsibilities can make it so that at the end of the day, instead of coming together to create connection, we end up in our separate corners zonked out or zoned out trying to release the stress of the day.
Instead of tuning into this amazing person we chose to be with, we tune into TV or the internet and lose the gift of connection we each really need.
The ritual that I am about to share with you — which can be done in as little as 10 minutes or can extend to well past an hour — creates instant connection between two people, and it nourishes you deeply individually.
It gives you the super power to press pause on the outside world, to let go of everything and everyone else, so that you can both be nourished by each other.
That’s why we choose to be in partnership anyway right?
I believe with all my heart that it’s these little moments that Noah and I take a few times a week for over a decade that has strengthened our connection and allowed us to navigate the bigger challenges that have come our way — selling homes, leaving jobs, Noah having a stroke — as well as the day to day challenges of running a business together and just living life.
The ritual was given to us by our beloved spiritual mentors in the Earth Wisdom tradition, Pele and Firehawk.
We call in the “Heart Check + Connect.”
The intention is that each person speaks and shares whatever is on their heart while the other person listens without interrupting. This creates an intimate space between each other where you really get a sense where the other person is. And the person speaking receives the gift of feeling like someone cares and is there with them.
The share can be anything from what happened in your day to what you are feeling or thinking. Or anything that emerges. I always love seeing what I say and surprising myself.
Here’s how it goes:
1. Invite your partner to connect and check in. Invitation is key. Simple ask, “Hey, do you want to check in?” or “Hey, do you want to connect and check in?”
2. Get into a different space where you can both be present without distraction. Sit in the living room or do it from bed or your deck (we’ve even done this in the car driving). Light a candle or a fire. Turn off the TV and the computers. Pour some tea or vino. Turn on some soft music. Just something that indicates your making a shift and claiming this space to connect.
3. Choose who will check in first — one person speaks, other person listens using these steps:
a. Person Sharing starts by saying, “My name is…” You say your name because it presences you are taking the space. Yes, we know you know each others names, but this little piece makes a big difference in getting present.
b. Person Sharing takes a breath and starts their share using a sentence starter like “What’s on my heart” or “What’s present for me” or “Where I am right now” This gets the sharing flowing and makes sure you are not just going through a laundry list from your head.
c. Person Listening — it’s your role to listen, just listen. If you have a question that will open the conversation, you can ask if you can ask a question, but the person speaking can decide yes or no. If you have a reflection wait until the person finishes before sharing.
d. Person Sharing — when you are complete say “These are my words” or “That’s me” or “That’s where I am” as a way to let the other person know you are complete.
e. Person Listening — you respond, as a way of receiving and witnessing that person, “Thank you for letting me know where you are” or “I hear you” or whatever feels authentic. If you have a reflection or a question, after you have received them, you can ask, “Would you like a reflection or can I ask a question” and the other person can decide what they need. No is an okay answer.
We can feel so isolated even in our partnerships. This ritual is the remedy to that.
We often don’t know what we are feeling or thinking inside ourselves until we speak it out loud. This ritual opens us up to ourselves as well as each other.
Being in partnership and asking for each other to hold space and be witnesses to our day to day lives and our inner lives is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. And I believe one of the simplest and most powerful acts you can take to strengthen your connection and support for each other.
For more on creating sacred partnerships that support both the ME and the WE, check out Christine’s best selling book Choosing ME before We or subscribe to her podcast Feminine Power Time on Itunes here.
Originally published at medium.com