Podcast: The Love Hangover. Why Codependents Get Stuck — Dr Nicholas Jenner

As a codependent, it is tough to end a toxic relationship. However, many codependents falter while dealing with the aftermath and being alone. Learn how you can navigate yourself through…

Podcast: The Love Hangover. Why Codependents Get Stuck — Dr Nicholas Jenner

 

Couple-relationship

Your Relationship Is Not a Lost Cause

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/progress-notes/202010/your-relationship-is-not-lost-cause

3 cogent reasons couples therapy is often successful in transforming intimacy.

The heightened emotional bond of marriage in particular puts partners continually at risk for conflict. Murray, Bellavia, and Rose (2003) concluded, “The experience of slights and hurts at the hand of a partner is inevitable. After all, conflicts of interest routinely surface, and even ambiguous behaviors, if sufficiently scrutinized, might seem to reveal a partner’s irritation, disappointment, or disinterest in oneself” (p. 128).

When conflict does occur, partners are often stuck in ruts of retort and resentment. Aggression and withdrawal in the midst of conflict are patterns of conditioned defense, covering up primary emotions, with primal cravings for understanding and support buried beneath. Knee-jerk reactions nearly inevitably result in perceptions of judgment, misunderstanding, and rejection, which diminish respect and increase disconnection. On the other hand, messages of understanding breed respect and connection.

Ontario psychotherapist Malcolm MacFarlane analogized, “I use [an] image of two magnets with the same poles facing each other to describe the sense of contact, energy, and anxiety that we experience when we enter the sphere of conflict with another person. Many people disengage from this sphere of conflict either by avoiding and backing off or by attacking, escalating, and then disconnecting. … The ideal is to learn to stay in the sphere of conflict while being authentic and working through the conflict” (personal communication, June 25, 2016).

Our emotions and thinking are inextricably tied to one another and together generate perception. When we perceive misunderstanding, under-appreciation, judgment, or rejection, our defenses go up. As walls rise, we have increasing difficulty hearing one another, by which I really mean understanding one another. Empathy is a precursor to mutuality.

Couples who do not experience mutuality usually channel feelings of sadness, fear, or shame through self-protective or coercive behaviors. When such interactions evolve into patterns, couples often experience a loss of trust or heightening of fear, which buries the deeper emotions even further.

There is an alternative to overt rage. When either afraid of one’s own anger or when emotion can be buried no further, logic—facts or even beliefs—may provide concealment. Logic is yet another superficial, secondary, reactive, and protective layer of defense for the rawer, primary, underlying emotions within—of which sadness, fear, and shame are prime examples.

The good news?

1. Couples nearly always already possess the resources they need for a positive relationship.

These resources involve increasing safety, empathy, and responsiveness. There are no magic facts that heal relationships. Intimacy is embodied, not encoded. Insight is often necessary but never sufficient in and of itself to bring about change. To recondition marital soil so intimacy may grow, expressions of vulnerability and understanding must increase, and reflexive, knee-jerk reactions must decrease. When highly committed to the relationship and highly motivated to see positive changes in it, partners are often quite adept in pivoting toward constructive and healing changes.

Healing is a function of growth. Growth, and thereby healing, occurs as two people lay down their defenses and connect in safe and constructive ways around the unresolved emotion, being careful to honor the unique emotional process of the one they love without stepping on and triggering emotional landmines. Couples therapy can lay the groundwork for this.

2. Changes must be experienced to be sustained, and therapy provides space for this to occur.

You can choose to keep on explaining what you already believe or risk stepping into a new terrain by exploring together how, rather than why, each of you feels hurt and anger. I’m referring to a shift between defending, criticizing, or debating facts to connecting on a more vulnerable and emotional level.

When one partner aggressively asserts resentments or withdraws in an emotional paralysis, the other partner may react in due pattern, understanding may be thwarted, and a cold distance remains. During this sort of interaction, partners typically feel—and this is where the mutuality ends—misunderstood and unsupported.

Where there is hurt, there must be—and let’s be clear that in some cases this requires great preparation and even facilitation—a coming together and a facing together of the underlying pain. Such pain generally involves sadness, fear, shame, or all three. Respect and connection do not occur at the secondary reactive level of emotion, through explosions, attacks, and retreats, and neither do growth and healing.

It is never easy to communicate vulnerably and honestly through the tremble of raw emotion. Couples have an opportunity to begin to experience a restructuring of their patterns of interaction and their experience of intimacy. When one chooses to communicate nondefensively upon feeling misunderstood or unsupported, the resulting mutual experience tends to be feeling mutual respect and emotional togetherness.

3. We are capable of increasing our capacities for emotional management and self-direction. 

Many couples struggle to manage intense reactive emotions they feel in the midst of conflict. We are not necessarily determined by our impulses. If you and your partner find yourselves in a tailspin of disconnection, make a decision today to lean into a new paradigm marked by respect and understanding and driven by intentionality. This is challenging work, and you may benefit from the facilitation a therapist can provide. Over the course of therapy, partners are capable of consolidating new positions, attitudes, and cycles of attachment behavior and experiencing conflict in a more satisfying, growth-oriented way.

And with the surge of COVID-19 came the surge in use of telehealth for therapy, including for couples therapy. Couples now have even greater options for accessing good therapists, and less excuses.

References

Murray, S. L., Bellavia, G. M., & Rose, P. (2003). Once hurt, twice hurtful: How perceived regard regulates daily marital interactions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 126-147.

Anger is a sign that something needs to change. — Thriving Under Pressure

One of the most common requests from my psychology coaching clients is to help them find healthier ways of expressing their emotions. For Example: Anger That said, it’s not as simple as becoming “more calm” or “less explosive”. The first step in transformation and lasting change is assessment. The Kübler-Ross Model provides insight: BELOW THE […]

Anger is a sign that something needs to change. — Thriving Under Pressure

Resistance To Change — Kaahsh

Change is considered to be an important aspect of life. Every single person goes through some change or another. A change of environment; change of friends; change of priorities; change of interests; and many more such things. Some people love the change, some don’t. And some, literally resist it. People will tell you, “Resisting Change […]

Resistance To Change — Kaahsh

OCD & Humor – Is Life a Tragedy Or a Comedy? — Overcoming OCD

OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is no laughing matter. It is a devastating mental disorder that can easily turn one’s life into a living hell. But that does not mean we cannot use a little bit of humor to cope with this terrifying disorder. While OCD itself is far from being funny, the situations that can […]

OCD & Humor – Is Life A Tragedy..Or A Comedy? — Overcoming OCD

Living An Honest Life — DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think back to when you were five years old and the way that you viewed the world. If you were raised in a good family, then you can relate to the fact that almost everything around you was based on the idea of having fun. At that age, you didn’t have responsibilities, expectations, work or pressure. You just lived you life having fun. As you grew older, you learned the importance of being honest with yourself and others; living an honest life.

Living An Honest Life — DSM (Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The Concept of Compassion in Psychology — Human Performance Psychology

Compassion-focused therapy (CFT) is a form of psychotherapy developed by Paul Gilbert for people struggling with shame and self-criticism. It is an integration of ideas concerning: Jungian archetypes; evolutionary approaches to human behavior, suffering, and growth; neuroscientific and cognitive-behavioral ideas… […]

The Concept of Compassion in Psychology — Human Performance Psychology

Bringing Mindfulness to the Table — The Wellbeing Blogger

Mindfulness skills are quite handy when it comes to food. Not because mindfulness became trendy over the last couple of years, but because it can nurture your self-awareness and expand your senses. Who doesn’t want to enjoy food even more? By being mindful, you can deepen your relationship with food. Suddenly, you may find yourself more appreciative of the people who work to grow your food, or even realise that you can waste less food.

Bringing Mindfulness to the Table — The Wellbeing Blogger

Can Mindfulness Increase Your Self-esteem? — Sky Is The Limit

Haven’t you noticed how confident individuals have a certain charm in how they present themselves? They have a swagger in their walk and a captivating smile. Confident individuals are self-assured. Confidence allows them to have a positive view of themselves. You can be like that too! You know how much you are able to achieve. But first, you will need to figure out the following: Can mindfulness increase your self-esteem?

 

Can mindfulness increase your self-esteem? — Sky Is The Limit

Law of Attraction is all about Psychology — Law of Attraction finds me!

Psychology is a science of mind-behaviour and its conversion int to many sub-fields of conscious and sub-conscious to synthesise human character. In simple terms, it’s exactly what the definition of Law of attraction is. Now let’s see how. We are what we think, what we think converts in to our feelings and how we feel determines […]

via Law of Attraction is all about Psychology — Law of Attraction finds me!

married-couple

Little Cruelties and Marital Unhappiness

Source link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/complicated-love/202007/little-cruelties-and-marital-unhappiness

5 Strategies for Reviving Your Relationship

little_crueltiesThe couple sat on the couch facing me, sad and sullen and talking about divorce. They seemed to have many reasons to stay together: a toddler son, a newly purchased house, a history stretching back to their high school days. So why was the wife insisting on divorce?

“He bought an Alexa device when he knew I didn’t want such a thing in the house.”

On one level, it seemed so frivolous. On another, it made perfect sense. This was a wife feeling that, again and again, her preferences and opinions had been ignored.

While some couples part in the wake of a major crisis — an infidelity, domestic abuse — others split after a series of small cruelties that can add up to emotional estrangement.

What are the little cruelties that add up to marital distress? They’re as unique as the couples involved.

There was the couple I met when I arrived at their spacious home to interview the man, a prominent doctor, for a magazine article. His wife welcomed me warmly, brought coffee and was returning with a plate of pastries when her husband said brusquely “Just set that plate down and get out! We have work to do.” Her face burned with humiliation and anger as she silently withdrew from the room. The doctor didn’t miss a beat, turning on the charm for the interview as I sat there stunned.

Then there were the couples who came for therapy:

The wife who never let her husband forget that she thought she had “married down” and who corrected every statement he made — incorrect or not — with a running commentary on what he was saying, questioning both his accuracy and intelligence.

The husband who belittled every interest and pursuit of his wife as “stupid and insignificant” and fondly called her an “airhead.” When challenged by others, he would smile and say “Aw, she knows that I love her!”

The husband who escalated ordinary disagreements to major crises by giving his wife the silent treatment for days at a time.

The wife who had a habit of blaming her husband every time anything went amiss — from a balky computer to a rained out picnic — with one phrase: “Can’t you do anything right?”

And there was the husband who snapped at his wife whenever he had a bad day at work and then wondered why she tended to keep her distance.

Of course many of these “little cruelties” are not little at all and some indicate larger problems within the marital relationship. But the fact is that casual cruelty, careless words and thoughtless actions can add considerably to marital tensions.

Working with couples, I often stress the importance of being kind to each other, even when depressed, mad, exasperated, disappointed or otherwise challenged. So much more is possible if disagreements are resolved amicably, if spouses are as courteous to each other as they are to good friends.  Some people talk to their spouses in a way they wouldn’t dare with friends.

“Yeah,” one husband in therapy told me. “If I talked to my friends the way I talk to my wife…well, I wouldn’t because it would hurt their feelings.”

And he thought his wife’s feelings weren’t hurt?  He squirmed a bit. “Well, she’s my wife. She should understand that I need to blow off steam. That’s just the way I am.”

Just the way I am.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard that in couples counseling as a way to justify casual cruelty. It’s a way to say “I don’t intend to change” or “Pleasing you isn’t worth any discomfort on my part.”

It’s a relationship dead-end.

So what can you do to change a relationship headed downhill?

Think before you speak.  Is that “just kidding!” comment or barbed humor likely to hurt your spouse? Is that casual aside or that verbal victory worth the cost to your relationship? Consider that it’s more important to be kind than to be relentlessly right.

Remember that your spouse is — or could be — your dearest friend. So treat him or her that way. If you wouldn’t say or do what you’re about to do to a dear friend — why in the world would you say or do that to your spouse?

Change established patterns. This is as necessary for the victim as well as the perpetrator. As long as you don’t speak up, your spouse has little incentive to change.

Eradicate hierarchical thinking in your relationship.  Get over yourself. Those married to people they consider beneath them in social status, intelligence or education may not only inflict considerable pain and hurt on their spouses, but also miss the joy of realizing the spouse’s unique strengths and talents.  Growing up poor or middle class instead of rich doesn’t mean a person lacks class. The absence of a college or professional degree is not an indication that a person lacks insight or intelligence (and the acquisition of such a degree is no guarantee that a person is insightful or wise). Besides, there are many kinds of intelligence. In real life, emotional intelligence may far exceed intellectual ability in becoming a successful human being.

Don’t minimize those little things.  Maybe they’re not so little to your spouse. Maybe the accumulated weight of small hurts, flashes of anger, and small betrayals is adding up to a big problem.

After all, it’s the small things, the casual, passing, little cruelties that can erode love and good will.

And it’s the small moments of connection and caring, of thoughtfulness and of kindness, one after another after another, that can help love to grow and flourish.

In marriage and in life, those small things can make a huge difference.