My husband has gotten into the ten-second rule, and I like it.
I read my blogs to him to see if he approves before I post them, and it’s very helpful because he’s a voracious reader. So for the past three days, whenever one of us gets negative or critical, he’s been saying, “Ok you’ve got three seconds,” or he starts counting seconds. When I realized what he was doing, I got into it, and it has been good–even fun. It’s a great boundary, and incorporates another relationship strategy of working on the same issue consciously at the same time. That is how you shorten the constant of distance between you.
That just means that everyone gets together at an emotional distance that is tolerable for them, and that becomes a constant in the relationship. If something causes one of you to distance, the other one will pursue to keep the constant distance, otherwise you both get uncomfortable. Status quo is powerful and causes you to do this back and forth distance-pursuer dance. But if one of you crashes and burns in an affair or addiction, the other needs to step back, even if it means leaving, until the burnt one recognizes the distance shift and cares enough to choose help. Then the partner can come back, otherwise they are enabling.
To change the constant distance, you both have to recognize that you want to, and you want to be closer. So you have to do the same thing at the same time (pursue) in order to lessen the distance. It’s a great thing to learn. The axiom goes, “Don’t ever pursue a Distancer. And don’t give a Pursuer an inch of slack.” Or in other words–if your partner distances, distance. If your partner pursues, pursue. Mirror them (unless they are crashing and burning.) That is the way to become closer.