Couples Therapy – Looking After Your Relationship
12th Feb 2019
How healthy is your relationship right now? When was the last time you and your partner checked? It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the strains and stresses of work, career, parenting and other demands of everyday life and overlook the one thing that we as human beings need most – to feel loved and cared for and that we matter to our partner.
But your personal relationship is a precious gift and keeping it good shape perhaps needs to be prioritised. The quality of personal and family relationships affects health, well-being and productivity at work; often we only realise there’s a problem when things come to a head – a crisis point.
How competent are you at handling conflicts and arguments, expressing feelings like anger and frustration without it coming across as criticism or blame? How do you show affection and caring? According to Dr Sue Johnson, world-renowned author of ‘Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Love Sense’ and co-creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples, ‘We are born to need each other. The human brain is wired for close connection with a few irreplaceable others. Accepting your need for this special kind of emotional connection is not a sign of weakness, but maturity and strength.’
So, ask yourself these questions:-
- How accessible are you and your partner to each other? For example, he/she can get your attention easily; you and your partner show each other that they come first with you; nobody feels shut out in the relationship and both of you feel safe discussing your deepest feelings
- How responsive are you to each other? For example, you are both comfortable leaning on each other when either of you are anxious or unsure; you both respond to signals of needing closeness; when you fight or argue, you both know that you are still important to each other and that you will find a way to stay connected rather than distant from each other.
- How emotionally engaged are you with each other? For example, you both feel very comfortable being close, trusting of each other and can confide about almost anything. You both feel safe enough to take emotional risks with each other, confident that you will not be blamed or criticised.
Perhaps you or your partner has grown up being self-contained, keeping feelings to yourself, trying not to have them. It may have been a learned behaviour and effective coping strategy when you were young and single, but in a loving relationship, conflict is often less dangerous than an emotional distance from your partner.
A loving relationship is a great recipe for long and happy life; knowing that someone will ‘be there’ for you and that you and your feelings matter to them are all superb antidotes to stress because they create a sense of safety, security and bond.
Could it be time to put your relationship under the spotlight? How satisfied are you with your partner’s role in the relationship, and more importantly, if you were to ask your partner how satisfied they are with your role in the relationship, what would they say? Get in touch if you would like a checklist to help you and your partner assess your degree of satisfaction with various aspects of your relationship.
Or if you’d like to find out how Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy could enhance your relationship, make an appointment for a free consultation; this can be face-to-face or via an online meeting forum. You will learn about new ways of relating to each other and be introduced to more productive ways to respond rather than react to each others’ needs and feelings, and thus the EFT process will help keep the relationship strong and vibrant.
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is defined as ‘a collaborative, structured, usually short-term therapy approach to working with couples, families and individuals that fosters the creation of secure relationship bonds. EFT is a change process that facilitates movement from distress to recovery by transforming negative patterns of interaction into a safe emotional connection between intimate partners and family members.
Based on the science of emotions and attachment theory as well as humanistic and systemic theories, EFT has a high success rate in achieving secure, resilient relationships in couples and within families, and in helping people to flexibly manage their emotional experience.’
You can read more about EFT for couples on my website.
This is a Guest Post by Judy James
Judy is a Relationship Consultant and Emotionally Focused Therapist in private practice at Brighter Spaces Wilmslow and in Warrington and Manchester City Centre. She also provides training and workshops for businesses and organisations to improve performance and productivity by developing Emotional Intelligence.