• Tamara Catharina

NVC in intimate relationships #1

In my intimate relationships, I have the intention of using Nonviolent Communication by consistently putting my needs and impacts on the table and I listen to the needs and impacts of the other. I dream of a world where intimate relationships are inspiring and fertile places for healing and learning. I am intent to reflect on this regularly and share my reflections here with you. Below you can find my first reflection.


Vincent (my partner) and I are living in different countries at the moment. I am in The Netherlands and he is in California. We applied for a visa for me to be able to move to California with our son. It is unclear when I will get the visa. I feel frustrated about this situation and desperate as I don’t know how to be in this. I want more clarity about what to expect. I grab my computer and start a search for information about the duration of our visa application. I stumble upon a page that says it can take up to ten years. My imagination starts creating several possible scenarios and I start worrying about our relationship, about myself and about our son. I think about possible practical challenges and about challenges for our intimate relationship and our family. My heart feels heavy with the idea that we have to wait for ten more years before actually living together. I feel lonely in this and would love for someone to listen to me. I call Vincent and share my worry with him. He says that he doesn’t understand why I went searching on the internet. He says he feels frustrated and angry. He tells me about how much he is regretting not trying other paths to speed up the visa process. I feel sad as I really want to be heard for my worry and pain. Also, I feel annoyed that he is bringing up a situation that happened in the past. I really want to stay connected to what we can do at this moment. Now both of us are in pain. I take a breath and I feel space in me to listen to him. I want to understand what is behind his anger. I ask him if he wants to share what his pain is about. He says he wants to trust the information we received from the lawyer he spoke to last year. I realize that I forgot about the lawyer. I feel a relief to hear what is going on in him because I trust the information the lawyer gave us as I believe he is experienced in the field of visa applications. I share my appreciation with Vincent for reminding me, as it gives me a feeling of trust and connection to reality. I express my regret for the impact that my worry might have had on him. We decide to go back into our archive and check what it was that the lawyer actually said. After that, we connect to the “not knowing” how long it will actually take before we will receive the visa. I notice a relaxation in me to find acknowledgement for the challenge the situation brings. We speak about our mutual need to care for our connection, to care for ourselves, our relationship and our family. We brainstorm what the next few months can look like. We come up with an intentional travel plan where we believe we can care for those needs. At the same time, we mourn that at this moment our favourite strategy, living together, is not an option. I share my appreciation with Vincent for his willingness to listen to me and welcome my feelings and for the togetherness I experience in figuring out our strategies and mourn. Vincent expresses his appreciation for my persistence to figure out the best possible way for us at this moment. At the end of our call, I have a warm loving feeling in my heart and I experience connection between us.


Now I am looking at this situation through the lens of nonviolent communication:

Vincent (my partner) and I are living in different countries at the moment. I am in The Netherlands and he is in California. We applied for a visa for me to be able to move to California with our son. It is unclear when I will get the visa. I feel frustrated about this situation and desperate as I don’t know how to be in this. I want more clarity about what to expect. I grab my computer and start a search for information about the duration of our visa application. I stumble upon a page that says it can take up to ten years.

Self-connection > I observe the situation and describes what a camera can see and hear (observation). I feel frustration and despair (feelings). I have a need for clarity and trust (need). My strategy is to search on the internet to find more information (strategy).


My imagination starts creating several possible scenarios and I start worrying about what can happen to our relationship, about myself and about our son. I think about possible practical challenges and about challenges for our intimate relationship and our family. My heart feels heavy with the idea that we have to wait for ten more years before actually living together. I feel lonely in this and would love for someone to listen to me and to be understood. I call Vincent and share my worry with him.

Self-connection > I have thoughts about possible scenarios and about the challenges that might come up for us (thoughts). My heart feels heavy (feeling) with the “idea that we might have to wait for ten years” (thought). The sensations in my body give me a feeling of loneliness (feeling) and a need for sharing and being heard (need). My strategy is to call Vincent and share my worry with him (strategy).


He says that he doesn’t understand why I went searching on the internet. He says he feels frustrated and angry. He tells me about how much he is regretting not trying other paths to speed up the visa process.

Listening > Vincent says he doesn’t understand why I went searching on the internet (expressing his thoughts). He feels frustrated and angry (expressing his feelings). He tells me about his regrets (expressing his thoughts).


I feel sad as I really want to be heard for my worry and pain. Also, I feel annoyed that he is bringing up a situation that happened in the past. I really want to stay connected to what we can do at this moment. Now both of us are in pain. I take a breath and I feel space in me to listen to him. I want to understand what is behind his anger. I ask him if he wants to share what his pain is about.

Self-connection > I connect to the feelings in my body and notice sensations that I relate to sadness (feeling) and that tell me I want to be heard (need). I feel annoyed (feeling) about him bringing up a situation from the past (observation). I want to stay connected to this moment (need). Both of us are in pain (feeling). I take a breath and I feel space in me to listen to him (I self connect). It is important for me to do this before I make a request. I want to make sure I have openness to listen to him empathically. I want to understand more about his anger (need). I ask him what his pain is about (request). My request is my strategy to meet my need for understanding.


He says he wants to trust the information we received from the lawyer he spoke to last year.

Listening > I am listening to the response to my request.


I realize that I forgot about the lawyer. I feel a relief to hear what is going on in him because I trust the information the lawyer gave us as I believe he is experienced in the field of visa applications.

Self-connection > While listening I connect to what is alive in me. I realize I forgot about the lawyer (thought). I feel relief (feeling) because the information the lawyer gave us meets my need for trust (need).


I share my appreciation with Vincent for reminding me, as it gives me a feeling of trust and connection to reality. I express my regret for the impact that my worry might have had on him.

Expression > In my appreciation I include in what way our exchange contributed to me. Our exchange helped me to meet my need for trust and connection to reality. In my expression of regret, I include how I want to contribute to him. I care for the impact my words have on him.


We decide to go back into our archive and check what it was that the lawyer actually said. After that, we connect to the “not knowing” how long it will actually take before we will receive the visa.

Dialogue > We decide to check what the lawyer actually said (strategy). This way we aim to meet our need for clarity and to stay connected to reality (needs). We connect to the idea that we don’t know how long it will take us to get a visa (thought).


I notice a relaxation in me to find acknowledgement for the challenge the situation brings.

Self-connection > To express this “not knowing” meets a need in me for acknowledgement (need). A need to be seen and heard for the complexity that lives in me (need). And a need for togetherness; to be in it together (need). I notice sensations in me that tell me that my body is relaxing (feeling).


We speak about our mutual need to care for our connection, to care for ourselves, our relationship and our family. We brainstorm what the next few months can look like. We come up with an intentional travel plan where we believe we can care for those needs. At the same time, we mourn that at this moment our favourite strategy, living together, is not an option.

Dialogue > We connect to our mutual needs for care (need). We brainstorm to search for strategies. We make an intentional travel plan (strategy). Our favourite strategy is to live together in California. We mourn that this strategy is not happening at this moment (feeling).


I share my appreciation with Vincent for his willingness to listen to me and welcome my feelings and for the togetherness I experience in figuring out our strategies and mourn. Vincent expresses his appreciation for my persistence to figure out the best possible way for us at this moment.

Expression > In my appreciation I include what needs of mine were met by our exchange. My needs for being heard, being welcomed and my need for togetherness and mourning together. In Vincent’s appreciation, he includes what needs of his were met by our dialogue. His need for clarity about what to do has been met with the support of the persistence he experienced in me.


At the end of our call, I have a warm loving feeling in my heart and I experience connection between us.

Self-connection > I notice sensations in my body that feel warm around my heart area and I experience something that I call love and connection (feeling).


I celebrate that nonviolent communication contributed to the increased awareness that I have and how I navigate my connection with children today. And I celebrate that I can stay connected to myself and to them in the same moment. That it becomes like a dance where both of our needs get met. I’m joyful about sharing examples with you from my life through the lens of nonviolent communication. It meets my need to contribute to the world I dream of. I’m curious to hear how it is for you to read this. If you want to read more of my experiences with parenting, please subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this page. If you want to share how it was or have questions, I invite you to write below this post or send your response at message@tamaracatharina.com