I recently reviewed some addiction debate among professionals regarding a YouTube video titled Addiction, by Kurzgesagt
and a TED Talk titled Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong, by Johann Hari.
Their point being made is that a potential underlying cause of addiction that has been undervalued in research and treatment is disconnection; addicts often suffer varying degrees of disconnection in their important relationships. Hari concludes that “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.” I don’t want to enter the debate by taking a stand in far left or far right views. But I do want to emphasize Hari’s point about human connection. In my treatment of recovering addicts, most tell of experiences ranging from ineffective connectedness to debilitating disconnection.
God’s design tells us that we were designed for success (we have been given everything we need for life and Godliness, 2 Pet. 1:3). We have been given the principles of oneness, unity, and like-mindedness; principles that require connection. We could define oneness as 1) knowing what your partner feels and caring about what you know in a way that is effective for your partner, and 2) knowing what your partner thinks and caring about what you know in a way that is effective for your partner.
So why do so many of us experience disconnection; a disconnection that can contribute to eventual compulsion and addiction? I think it is because the practice of these principles requires taking the risk to be vulnerable. And further, the vulnerability risks we do take sometimes teach us not to risk it again. When a marriage partner asks “honey, what are you feeling,” answering honestly requires vulnerability.
Whether we are recovering from compulsion/addiction or simply trying to become more connected in our intimate relationships, we can set ourselves and our partners up for success by practicing vulnerability. Here are some practical ideas for connection success in a oneness relationship:
set aside daily, uninterrupted, couple connection time
disarm your partner by stating that revelation of any emotion is ok and that you want to know the feelings
ask “honey, what’s on your heart today,” or “what are you feeling”
accept the feeling by simply not asking why, or not stating that they shouldn’t feel that way
validate the one who experiences the feeling by responding with words of concern that include the revealed emotion, “honey, I really care about you feeling disappointed”
provide comfort (words of encouragement, touch). If you don’t know what is comforting, ask “what’s the most compassionate thing I can do right now to comfort you?”
Practicing these simple steps every day for several weeks creates a new normal that provides self reinforcement for its continuation. Let’s let this become part of the fabric of daily relationship life in order to live the abundant life we were created for.