State of the Union Meeting s— A Life Hack for Emotional Intimacy

Dr T J Jordan
3 min readJul 8, 2023

An hour each week can reduce friction and create greater connection.

Photo by jana bemol on Unsplash

By Dr T J Jordan

Much of our communication with our partners is focused on complaints and problems.

We often fall into the habit of navigating our relationship lives on autopilot, communicating annoyance at any time along the way. We might not even notice that the subject of our relationship talk is so often negative.

Then there are the “meta level” communications in which we analyze the relationship itself. These often are the conversations that are heralded by the dreaded announcement, “We need to talk.” And they are dreaded because these conversations are usually about problems.

From our good intentions comes an emphasis on what’s wrong. In our efforts to fix things that are weak, we lose track of what’s good. But we know that all relationships run into problems — and we want to solve them.

How do we improve our connections without letting problems bleed too much into all the moments of our lives together? How do we cope with areas of friction without building up resentments? And how do we avoid the hyper-vigilance that comes when complaints are freely spoken at any moment?

The Hack

What we focus on grows. This means that we often continue to feed the wolf that bites, instead of the wolf that befriends us.

We need to have conversations about practical problems, but the topic of “complaints” is best kept separate from the rest of our moments together. If we don’t corral our negative talk, we will feed relational anxiety.

Here’s how to manage this quandary:

— 1. Set aside an hour each week to share the issues that have arisen.

Knowing that you will have this opportunity will quell the urgency and provide cooling off time. Most of our problems are not as immediate and as catastrophic as we feel in the first moment.

— 2. Schedule your hour as though it’s one of your most important commitments.

While it’s easy to let this commitment slide, ignoring it creates relationship damage. Stick to the plan.

— 3. Set aside time to reflect on the good things about your relationship as well as the bad.

What we focus on grows, at least in our perceptions. While we experience conflict, we also experience the good things that hold us together. Balancing our perceptions is the best approach.

— 4. If you slip up and start talking complaints at other times, forgive yourself.

Like all habits, corralling the negatives into your designated hour will take time. Be patient.

The Wrap

We try so hard to improve our relationships that we don’t realize how our attempts at improvement are hurting our connections.

Leaving all our moments together vulnerable to the negatives means that we’re always making ourselves vulnerable to pain. We need time off from fixing things and from chronically analyzing our intimacy.

Above all, we need to live our intimacy in ways that we enjoy it. In a world where anger is on the rise, we need to be aware that we’re allowing indignation and contempt to invade our precious moments together. We need to remember that we don’t want to be close to those who hurt us. So controlling our emphasis on negativity is a very good start.

(Find out about scheduling a free thirty minute individual or couples therapy session with me here or email me at tjj@jordantalkspace.com. I am a concierge clinical psychologist in private practice with an emphasis on remote sessions. I provide practical psychological strategies to enhance love, sex, and intimacy, as well as personal growth. I combine life lessons with clinical psychology in a mentorship framework. Together we collaboratively explore ways to celebrate self and self-in-relationship.)

Many thanks for reading!

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Dr T J Jordan

Passionate about sexualities, masculinities, relationships, intimacy, mental health, CPTSD , animals, growth, psychology, and exotic locations.