Intimate relationships can be challenging at times and require TLC and effort to sustain them. And the reality is, they can get off track. If over time this happens enough, where resentment and other negative emotions build up between you, disconnection can occur. This break can lead to repetitive cycles of unproductive behavior such defensiveness, hostility and emotional detachment. This is usually ultimately fueled by the sadness you both feel that the other doesn’t seem to be there anymore, ultimately a huge hit on your emotional safety as a couple.
If you’ve gone through tough times with your partner and have both been making an effort towards reconnection either via therapy or self-help methods, you have taken the first huge step with positive intention for change.
As a therapist who works extensively with couples, I have seen relationships at their worst – and at their best. It’s a very rewarding experience to observe couples coming closer to each other as hope builds. It’s more more than just better communication. There are issues beneath the couple dynamic that actually drive the quality of communication and it’s these aspects that must be functioning optimally.
Your relationship is truly healing if:
- You are aware of and have empathy for your own – and each other’s, sensitive spots or wounds.
- You are attuned to each other enough to know when something is off. You both seek to soothe and are open to soothing.
- You can emotionally regulate yourselves to avoid doing damage to each other in the future.
- You have moved from inappropriate personalizing to more thoughtful assessment of meaning of the other’s actions.
- You have a clear understanding of the initial disconnection and are aware of potential pitfalls.
- You have shifted from an adversarial to a collaborative spirit. You are on the same team.
- You both can take ownership of your role in hurting the other and are tending to and repairing wounds that have occurred.
This list is not all-inclusive but it’s a good guideline for you to follow if you are doing the work of relationship healing with your partner. When many of the above is happening, the emotional safety is being restored. You begin to feel truly safe with each other so that reconnection can occur. You will feel it. There may be reasons why defenses have blocked that need but underneath it all, it’s a primal need for all of us. We are wired to connect and seek security in each other.
If there is more work to be done in your relationship for a full reconnection, keep up the good work. If you are getting there, well done!