We’ve been doing some really good work in the Couples Therapy group, learning how to build the foundations of emotional intimacy and discovering how to communicate better. The key points we’ve been focusing on are sensitivity to your partner, staying connected to your partner, and learning better methods of communication.
Couples often have confusion about what messages each partner is sending, especially when the partner doesn’t truly understand their own feelings. When these feelings and messages are clarified, the couple feels a real connection and sensitivity to each other. They feel an undeniable spark and admiration for the other person, and really tune in to feeling that they are talking to the person they love.
Once this connection is made (or re-made), the question is how to stay connected with one’s partner. It can definitely be challenging because life events can sometimes throw things out of balance, and one person ends up giving more than receiving. If it’s always the same person who is putting his or her needs on the back burner, there has to be some discussion about that.
When you hear your partner’s needs, you should try to be sensitive to them and modify your behavior. Does that mean that you’re going to succeed at that all the time, and always attend to your partner’s needs? Probably not. But at least you can acknowledge your partner’s need, and acknowledge that you can’t really attend to it at the moment. At least then your partner feels noticed. Sometimes it’s really about feeling your own needs in a relationship and then coming back into the relationship to work in partnership. At some point, however, it’s vitally important to deepen the connection and communication by talking in detail about all the issues that come up.
Being sensitive to each other is key, but sometimes your sensitivity can be misdirected. You might not be reading the situation correctly, and so instead of adjusting your behavior to meet the needs of your partner, you may continue to make the same mistake over and over again. Thus you keep tripping your partner’s “triggers”. To avoid the triggers, you need to adjust your behavior or explain when you can’t, and also help your partner realize that when you say or do something that touches off those triggers that it doesn’t mean the same thing to you as it does to your partner.
It’s important to realize that we don’t get all our needs met by just one person. Wouldn’t it be easy and nice if that were true? But even in a mother/child relationship, the child doesn’t get all needs met by the mother; she often has unmet needs of her own and sometimes that gets in the way. Besides, nobody can be giving one hundred percent of the time.
One thing we are learning together: by accepting imperfection and tolerating difference in our partners, we are actually brought closer to them.
The next blog posting will continue with the third key point we’ve been focusing on: Communication.
Interested in learning more about couples therapy? Please call me at 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, or email me directly at [email protected]