In our love-relationships, we travel an emotional and spiritual journey, which usually begins with attraction, romance, and excitement. Over time, this companionship will develop toward increased mindfulness, and eventual transformation into a respectful, intimate, mature, and joyful bond. However, at times this love-relationship may travel a rocky road where the togetherness is swept away by criticism, confrontations, “silent treatment”, or gridlocked positions.
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Every marriage, or partnership, holds “many relationships in one,” as we bring everything we have learned about human interactions, beginning in our family of origin, into the relationship with our spouse. The coping skills we have developed will benefit and enrich our relationship, or deplete and destroy intimacy and genuine friendship if we don’t increase our awareness about the scripts from which we relate to others.
During many years, we observed how our parents or caregivers solved conflicts, how they communicated, how they showed affection, admiration, and friendship toward each other. We learned what was expected of us, and what rewards or punishments would come if we did not follow the rules. We learned about anger, disappointments, sadness, joy, how to get our needs met, and how to protect ourselves if those needs were not met. We observed how our parents solved problems, and how they avoided them. We learned about how to express feelings with words or, by using body language.
Much of our early learning about relationships we bring with us into our adult relation-ships, oftentimes without conscious awareness. Although our experiences differ, they generally have one thing in common: the longing for attachment, and an emotional bond with significant others in our lives. Dr. Sue Johnson in her book, “Hold Me Tight” describes the longing for emotional connection with our spouse and partner beautifully. She says: “…Forget about learning how to argue better, analyzing your childhood, making grand romantic gestures, or experimenting with new sexual positions. Instead, recognize and admit that you are emotionally attached to and dependent on your partner in much the same way that a child is on a parent for nurturing, soothing, and protection.” (p.7)
If you have reached a point where you worry about your relationship, but don’t know how to break the cycle of drifting away from each other, couples’ therapy can help restore the emotional closeness in your relationship. As your therapist, I will help you to work on recovering from the distress that has caused difficulties, and strengthen your emotional connection. Through conjoint sessions, and occasional individual sessions in the early stages of the therapy process, we will work together to increase your awareness about your emotional needs and how you express these needs verbally and non-verbally to your partner. My goal is helping you to move your relationship toward mutual satisfaction; develop open, honest, and respectful communication; increase your ability to express your feelings and needs; and to deepen the level of intimacy, and strengthen long-lasting friendship.
October 8, 2011