Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D.

Love Doc

The Power of Silence in Our Love Lives

Why finding time alone is essential to intimate relating

Posted Jan 08, 2012

"Mommy, let's listen to silence" remarked my five year old son on one of our many nature walks. In silence we got in touch with our inner thoughts, our minds, and our souls so that we could communicate in a meaningful way. That was then, some 35 years ago: then there is now.

Today the internet, cell phones, texting, tweeting, Facebooking, and TV ─ the craze for speedy, steady streams of instant meaningless information ─ are construed as communication. How does all of this play out in our love lives?

Pico Iyer in the Sunday Review, Jan 1, 2012, NY Times, writes a compelling article entitled The Joy of Quiet; Trying to Escape the Constant Stream of Too Much Information. He tells us that the average American spends eight and a half hours in front of a screen and that the average adolescent sends or receives 75 text messages a day, with some reaching 10,000 in 24 hours. That leaves barely any time to communicate with your partner. And when you do, what is the quality of the communication?

Iyer quotes Henry David Thoreau on the subject:" the man whose horse trots a mile a minute does not carry the most important message." Thoreau also wrote "we have more and more ways to communicate but less and less to say. That's because important meaningful things to say take time and space with yourself first.

Only by getting in touch with your inner world, your own emotions, your private thoughts, your way of seeing things, and your own personhood can you convey important messages. In other words, for you to "get your partner" you must "get" yourself first."

Antonio Damasio tells us that deep thought and empathy that are essential in our love lives are inherently slow and not in concert with our speedy lives. Not only that but research shows that after spending time in quiet rural settings, people are more attentive, calmer, with stronger memory and improved thinking.

How then do you slow down and find time to find calm your busy brain and communicate with your partner?

I believe time alone is essential, so that you can really get into yourself. In a relationship, however, too much time alone can be problematic. Indeed, like the Goldilocks effect, too much or too little time alone in silence can hinder intimacy.

When you think of quiet time alone, make room for quiet time together with your partner. Create the time and space for taking walks, listening to beautiful music, reading a book next to your partner.

Sans cell phones or internet, you and our partner's minds and souls can meet and soar in silence.
For more about how to communicate in deep meaningful and empathic ways read my book, The New Science of Love: How Understanding the Brain's Wiring Can Help Rekindle Your Relationship (Sourcebooks, Casablanca, 2011).

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