Being in an intimate relationship is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of life. Most of us take it for granted that all we have to do to succeed at a relationship is to find the right person. Sure, relationships take work, we say, but when the going gets tough it becomes pretty tempting to question whether we’re with the right person at all. Maybe it was all just a big mistake?
Hold your horses! Usually it’s not that simple. Finding one’s “soul mate” is usually less a matter of fate and more a process of individual and mutual exploration that leads to greater self awareness and emotional intelligence.
Typically when we get married, we actually know ourselves and our partners less than we like to believe. On an emotional level, we are quite complex, and we each have a particular attachment style that determines how comfortable we are in emotional proximity. Some of us are naturally comfortable with emotional expression and intimacy, while others are much less likely to open up emotionally. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with either of us; it simply means each of us is different when it comes to experiencing and expressing our most tender and vulnerable emotions.
Emotionally-Focused Therapy helps couples understand the attachment styles of each individual and the emotional dynamic that exists between partners. Couples learn to identify “negative cycles” that occur within their relationship, and to understand each person’s participation in the dynamic. Once the negative cycle is understood, couples learn to work together to stop the cycle. They begin to understand the emotional life and nervous-system response of their partner, and to approach it with more empathy and compassion. Emotionally-Focused Therapy was developed by Dr. Sue Johnson. It is considered one of the primary scientifically validated approaches for working with couples.
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