Last week I wrote about why love dies, according psychologist, clinician, and researcher Dr. Sue Johnson. This week I will discuss how to fix that broken relationship. Of course, this is short and incomplete synopsis of her work. Read the full version in Johnson’s books “Hold Me Tight” and “Love Sense.” Therapists that use Emotion Focused techniques use these same principles.
Step 1: Identify the destructive pattern and learn to recognize and curtail it. Is your pattern pursuer-distancer? Withdraw-withdraw? Attack-attack?
Step 2: Actively work together to build stronger bonds of attachment.
*Become more proactive, you need to work on your relationship continually—not just once.
*A love relationship is never static, it always requires attention.
*A relationship is made up of micromoments of connection and disconnection.
*Misattunement is NOT a sign of lack of love.
*Repair tiny moments of misattunement and come back into harmony.
*Over time, thousand of micromoves accumulate into secure or insecure attachment.
Everyone wants to know, “are you there for me?” Show a clear answer of “yes!” by:
*Accessibility: pay attention and be emotionally open
*Responsiveness: accept needs and fears, offer comfort and caring
*Engagement: be emotionally present, absorbed and involved
Hold Me Tight Conversation
*Tune in to and stay with your own softer emotions and hold hope of potential connection with the loved one.
*Regulate your emotions so you can look out at the other person with some openness and curiosity and show willingness to listen to incoming cues. You are not flooded or trying to shut down and stay numb. (p. 223)
*Turn your emotions into clear, specific signals. Messages are not conflicted or garbled. Clear communication flows from a clear inner sense of feared danger and longed-for safety.
*Tolerate fears of the other’s response enough to stay engaged and give the other a chance to respond.
*Explicitly state needs. To do this you recognize and accept your attachment needs. (p. 223-224)
*Hear and accept the needs of the other. Respond to these needs with empathy and honesty.
*React to the other’s response, even if it is not what is hoped for, in a way that is relatively balanced and, especially if it is what is hoped for, with increased trust and positive emotion.
*Explore and take into account your partner’s reality and make sense of, rather than dismiss, his or her response. (p. 224-225)