Whether there is a lot of fighting and bickering or quiet discontent and separateness, most couples struggle in their relationship. You might feel dissatisfaction, loneliness, and hopelessness seep in and take an unrelenting hold of your relationship from which you can’t seem to figure out a way to feel okay in your relationship and with your partner.
A daunting sense of despair, panic and / or paralysis might overcome you perpetuating the hurtful cycle (the demand / withdraw, pursuer / distancer, over- / underfunctioner, maximizer / minimizer pattern of relating). This is a result of using self-defeating defense mechanisms when triggered by the repeated unsuccessful attempts at trying to connect with our partner.
When we feel vulnerable, stressed, concerned, needy or just simply need to be in connection, we put our feelers out for our partner for comfort and might try approaching our partner for the safety of connection. This is an evolutionary bonding need that ensures our survival. In connection we survive and thrive. When our approach is thwarted, dismissed, rejected, ignored or not recognized and our need goes unmet, we feel a sense of doom. Our very survival is at stake.
It is imperative for partners to feel connected to ensure a satisfying relationship and a sense of wellbeing. There are three key components (captured with the A.R.E. acronym) to making this happen according to attachment expert Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight. These include:
Accessibiltiy (Can I reach you?) Responsiveness (Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?) Engagement (Do I know you will value me and stay close?) When our partner is consistently available, open, receptive and approachable, we know we can turn to them. When our partner is attuned, accepting, and makes us a priority we know we can count on them. When our partner is absorbed, attracted, involved, and interested, we feel special and wanted – we know we exist and we are OK.
This is the recipe for creating and sustaining connection and strengthening your bond. When you are accessible, responsive and engaged toward your partner, as best you can be even when things are rough, you become safe to your partner and in turn invite them to reciprocate. You change your dissatisfying interaction cycle to a satisfying, healing and loving one. This is how we enjoy connection. This is how we are OK. This is what you get out of being in relationship. Give it a try. Give your partner the A.R.E. and invite them to thrive in connection.
Happy Connecting and Bonding!!
~ Your MetroRelationship™ Assignment
Have a discussion with your partner about how you can each be more accessible, responsive and engaged with each other. Take turns speaking for yourself and how you intend to enhance your bond and connection.
Copyright (c) 2016 Emma K. Viglucci. All rights reserved.
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Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples, she is the creator of the MetroRelationship™ philosophy and a variety of Successful Couple™ content that assist couples succeed at their relationship and their life. Stay Connected™ with Emma and receive weekly Connection Notes in your inbox with Personal Growth and Relationship Enrichment insights and strategies, visit: www.metrorelationship.com.