To Heal the Relationship, Uncover the Feelings

Do you and your partner feel as though you replay the same arguments over and over without resolving anything? This undertow of festering disagreements will only continue to build until it threatens to pull you helplessly below the surface. The problem might be that you're slapping a Band-Aid on the exterior behavior while letting the underlying cause remain untreated. Emotionally-Focused Therapy looks beyond the actions to the feelings that make one or both partners feel vulnerable. Months – and in some cases years – of suppressing these emotions can confuse them to the point where you can no longer accurately identify them, and instead do what is considered “acting out” on them. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regain or develop the ability to get in touch with your real feelings. Remove Judgment from the Equation Whether or not it is conscious, we generally assign values to the people, places and things in our lives, and feelings are no different. Emotions are either "good" or "bad," and you might believe that experiencing negative feelings makes you a "bad" person. In reality, feelings simply exist. The only positive or negative qualities they have are the ones you assign to them. Giving yourself permission to feel jealous, anxious or any of the other completely human emotions might lead to feeling more vulnerable, but the result is also that you'll also be able to make a more objective assessment of a situation. Vulnerability and Connection As dangerous as it might feel to be vulnerable, it is where we need to be to foster deep connections in our relationships. When we are able to be vulnerable and show ourselves to our partners, and they accept us, we feel a feeling different from any other: true connection. In order to be vulnerable though, we need to get to the root. Follow the "How Come?" Trail It will be a tall order to deal with problems in your relationship effectively if you haven’t understood the root cause. If you're angry that your partner looks at other men or women, ask yourself “how come, what bothers me about this?” The answer may be that it actually makes you feel insecure. Is that because you are self-conscious about your flaws, or because you fear the loss of your relationship? Keep asking those questions, and follow the trail. Process (Out Loud) Your Thoughts How long would you stumble around your dark home looking for your car keys before you turned a light on? Discovering your true feelings can be just as tricky if you keep them inside your mind. A verbal process around emotions and thoughts can have an illuminating effect, bringing more of them into the "light" where you can explore their meanings clearly and honestly. Then, instead of “acting out” on them, perhaps in defensive or aggressive ways, you can communicate them to your partner so that they can be heard and validated. -DK