Trust is another part of a secure relationship. Both partners must be able to reach out to each other and trust that they’ll respond sensitively. Again, take the above example. The husband knows that when he talks to his wife about his feelings, she will care and listen to his needs and feelings. He’ll be able to be vulnerable with her and reveal that he misses her and ask her to make more time for their relationship.
In response, the wife may apologize and thank her husband for being honest. She also might suggest they hire a babysitter and enjoy a night out. In other words, she responds compassionately and appreciates that he can articulate his needs and emotions. As a result, he’s then comforted by her response and able to move on. So after such a conversation or series of talks, “the bond is restored and strengthened,” Blum said.
For many couples, the interaction goes awry when one partner becomes angry at having to ask for attention or care. And one or both of them “puts on the armor,” as Blum calls it. Instead of discussing their concerns and needs, they lash out. For instance, the husband in the above example might’ve said: “You haven’t been around for weeks. I’m taking care of the kids and you have yet to thank me. Do you think you don’t have a family anymore?”
“With this approach, his wife only hears anger and an attack, which causes her to defend herself—missing his hurt and then not able to respond sensitively to his need,” Blum said. Other times, partners will withdraw, she added. The same husband might think, “I don’t need her. I can be an independent person. I’m going to make plans with my friends. I don’t care if I don’t see her for another month.” “He then pulls further away from her and the rift between them widens,” she said.
A Sample EFT Exercise
Blum described EFT as giving couples a “new language and lens to understand their relationship, and offers a map for getting back on a closer, more connected course.” Distressed couples get caught up in a negative dance, where each reacts to the other, both perpetuating the negative spiral.
Blum highly recommended founder Sue Johnson’s book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love. It helps couples dissect their debates and dig deeper beyond dirty dishes and financial spats. That’s because, according to Blum, repetitive arguments are really about either one or both partners “not feeling securely attached.” Johnson calls these repetitive fights “demon dialogues.” “The first step to getting out of the negative spiral —the demon dialogue—is to chart out what’s happening.”