What to Do When Your Relationship
Feels Like a Lot of Work:
Relationships can be a lot of work, especially when hidden resentments remain unexpressed or when one or both partners begin to feel a lack of connection.
Oftentimes such unexpressed needs or feelings can lead to a perpetual cycle of negativity where both partners end up wondering if there is really any love left.
Fortunately, emotionally-focused couples therapists have found a way to reverse the vicious cycle of criticism that can sometimes take a hold of a relationship
In the video "How to Turn a Negative Relationship Around", I will show you exactly how an emotionally-focused therapist goes about changing the negative pattern between partners.
How to Get Unstuck from Negative Patterns:
What you will learn in this video is that:
Couples often get stuck in a vicious spiral, where the way one person deals with their emotional discontent impacts how the other person deals with theirs. This keeps both partners stuck in a "tit for tat" that gets them farther and farther apart from each other.
Couples often only show each other part of what they are really feeling. They often tend to prioritize anger or anxiety. Anger gets expressed as criticism or little jabs at the other person's character. Anxiety gets expressed as an emotional shutting down, a tendency to withdraw from the relationship into oneself, or a frantic attempt to problem-solve or appease the other person to avoid further conflict.
Couples can stop the negative pattern by communicating the real feelings that are at the source of their anger or their anxiety. Oftentimes these primary feelings include semi-unconscious hunches. Behind criticism and little jabs, for example, a person may feeling a fear that their partner is losing interest in them, or a sadness and loneliness about craving more contact and more connection. Behind anxiety that leads to shutting down or attempts to appease, on the other hand, may be an intolerable fear that one does not really measure up or is not really satisfactory to the other person.
What the video shows is that what it takes for a couple to get unstuck from a negative pattern is:
- The ability to acknowledge the steps they each take that perpetuate their negative cycle. Once they understand how it is they get stuck, they now have the tools to stop themselves. They also have a much better chance to catch themselves if they unwittingly fall back into their old pattern
- The willingness to risk true intimacy by letting their partner in on what they really feel underneath their outward expression of anger and detachment. Couples need to learn not only to speak about these feelings, but also to speak from them. For example, if a person feels sad and alone and wishful of a closer connection with their partner, it is not effective to say these things in an angry or sarcastic tone of voice. They have to truly speak from a place of sadness and yearning, so the emotional message they are sending their partner lines up with what they are really saying
Once both partners communicate from the heart, and from a place of vulnerability and softness, the effect they will have on each other is to pull each other closer.
Finding Your Way Back to the Loving Connection:
The best way to turn a negative relationship into a relationship that builds both partners up is to develop a culture of communicating more deeply about their true thoughts and feelings.
This of course can take practice, and may require the intervention of a couples therapist who can help both partners feel safe enough to reveal the more vulnerable aspects of their own experiences of the relationship, of themselves, or of their partner.
With the right support and guidance, however, partners can slowly but surely eradicate the negative feelings that are threatening their love, connection, and friendship.