If you’ve been in a relationship for a while then you are already aware that the initial spark and romantic excitement fades over time. This is a normal part of any committed and long-term relationship and it doesn’t mean there’s a problem – it just means that you have gotten comfortable with one another and feel safe and secure. However, there are times when complacency or lack of connection is more prevalent, partners feel more distant and there isn’t the feeling of being secure or emotionally safe in the relationship. This can be a cause for concern.
Do any of these situations feel familiar?
If any of these scenarios seem familiar, your relationship probably needs some rejuvenation and nurturance. Deciding that you and your partner might be struggling with connection and in need of help from a professional couple counselor can feel daunting and overwhelming.
1) EFT’s approach is collaborative and non-blaming.
EFT couple therapy creates a safe environment for both partners to be heard so that the sessions can be productive. It’s possible that it may take a few sessions depending on what comes up and how escalated you get in one of your negative cycles. The goal is to help you both see and accept that the issues you face are a “couple” issue about the dynamic in the relationship and not any one person’s fault.
If you both are invested in working on your relationship, that will help a lot in creating safety and hope for a positive change.
2) EFT couple therapy works to change negative connection patterns into positive ones.
EFT couple therapy works to help you identify your negative pattern of communicating – learning what behaviors each person does during a time of distancing or fighting and what emotions are really underlying the behavior.
This is done by sharing examples of typical arguments and identifying what each person does in the argument (i.e. raise a voice, defend, get angry, walk away, shut down). Then explaining the behaviors in terms of attachment and underlying feelings, such as fears of being “abandoned”, feeling like the partner isn’t really there for him/her, feelings of not being understood or respected or longings for connection, to be valued, and to be nurtured.
There are many underlying emotions that can be at play in a typical argument and helping each partner identify these primary, underling emotions is essential so that the couple can begin to understand that there is a reason they are interacting as they do and it makes sense that they are protecting themselves from hurt and pain.
3) EFT couple therapy is based on the attachment theory, which is ultimately what a relationship is about: attachment!
Because everyone has an experience in childhood of attachment to one’s parents or primary caregiver, this lays the groundwork for later attachments in life – whether to friends or lovers. Because of these early experiences of connection, a person learns about whether it is safe to express feelings and ask for help or whether it’s not. Understanding each person’s attachment history is an important part in figuring out what might be happening within the relationship. After all, if a person grows up in an environment where no one talked about feelings, it may be difficult to express ones emotions.
Conversely, growing up in a family with any alcohol abuse, verbal/emotional abuse and/or neglect, creates another type of experience where ones emotional needs couldn’t be met. These negative experiences lead people to cope in various ways to protect themselves from on-going hurt, pain and vulnerability. These early experiences are explored in EFT couple therapy, if appropriate, and used to help de-pathologize any behavior. These explorations helps the couple make sense of why each partner acts as they do when they are afraid that their loved one isn’t there for them or is pulling away.