How different relationships would be if we saw our partner as our teammate rather than our opponent…and similarly, what leads us to defend against rather than turn towards? For starters when we’re hurt and vulnerable, all we want is for our partner to be there. To show up and comfort us. We want them to prioritize our pain over theirs in that moment and listen to understand. And while sometimes our partner may be able to give us this kind of attuned emotional response, more often than not they react from a place of anger because just like us, they are human and as a result imperfect.
So you may ask- how do we fix this? What do we do when we get caught in this vicious cycle that leaves you and your partner isolated and alone? Dr. Sue Johnson, an expert in the field of couples therapy (more info below), refers to couple dynamics similar to dancing the tango. As one person moves one way (by criticizing their partner), the other moves another way (by withdrawing in fear of not being good enough). You see it’s not about pointing fingers or proving who is to blame, we have to look deeper than that. We have to look at the whole picture. Why do I get triggered when my partner yells at me and what am I doing that’s contributing to our dance? By seeing the cycle similar to a demon taking over your relationship, the cycle quickly becomes the enemy rather than each other. So next time you step onto the battle field, ask yourself whose side you’re really on? Who’s the real enemy? Is it the person I love or the demon in the shadows? For more information on Dr. Sue Johnson’s model of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) or to find an EFT therapist in your area, follow link: http://www.iceeft.com/