When couples come in for therapy, I often ask if there are one or two themes that keep coming up. Once we have identified those, then I look underneath them to see what deep emotions are tied to each individual’s reactions. In Emotionally Focused Therapy, we call these themes, “the Cycle”, or “the Dance”. It’s almost as if one person is doing the twist and the other person is trying to waltz. With EFT therapy, we are able to look at the cycle as the enemy instead of the partners.
For example, if a partner has trouble letting her husband go fishing with his buddy, and interprets his action as representing abandonment, she might become very angry and panicky. If he just thinks she is trying to control him and what he does with his friends, then he is likely to become defensive, argue loudly, or simply withdraw. In therapy they learn to become attuned to their softer emotions and reach for each other to get their needs met. In the case of the same imaginary couple I referred to previously, if she is able to talk to her husband vulnerably about her fear and sadness about him leaving, he is more likely to be able to respond to her with care and comfort.
By the time couples come in for therapy, often they have reached an impasse. They are STUCK: each person in his/her own reality and fighting to win or be “right”.
Sometimes one partner has shut down and the other partner is angry and frustrated. Frequently they have locked into their own judgements about each other and I have to help them develop what I call a “workbench” where they can broaden their views, and explore new ways of looking at their dance (or their cycle). Many times they look at their partner’s qualities as “good or bad”, “right or wrong”. In most cases, they are just different…….not better or worse.
My uncle used to say, “if both of you were the same, then one of you wouldn’t be necessary!“
I always have hope for relationships. After all, when the partners invest in their relationship by coming into my office, I see this as evidence that they want to change things and become loving and safe for each other. Sometimes this happens rather quickly, and often it takes more time and work. However, it’s always worth it to get back to the love, the joy and the FLOWERS !!!!!!