My hope for this article is to give you some of the facts and present you with the steps to creating a loving relationship that is exciting and fulfilling. It's not pie in the sky, either! It's based on real scientific empirical research.
How did I come about this? My brother has discounted what I do for a living for years. He is a physician and always has said to me that if you can't see something on a microscope then it doesn't exist. Now, though, I have research to back up what I have been saying: there really is a science to creating loving relationships!
I want to change the marriage statistics. It was evident to me how much pain the families I have seen had felt. Family's lives were being altered because of the poor relationships that I was trying to fix.
The Seven Steps to a Loving Relationship
- See your partner for who he or she really is. Your partner has strengths and weaknesses. See their love for you as more important than the quirks that you do not like.
- Be willing to learn from each other. Each person in the relationship should see learning from each other as important to having his or her love returned. Frustration with your partner is typically fear of losing the closeness you have. That positive intent has to be highlighted and expressed clearly and verbally, over and over again.
- Get comfortable with yourself. See yourself as good enough for your partner and believe that they are lucky to have you in their life. If you don't feel this way, I would recommend getting help with this one. Feeling that your partner is fortunate to have you in their life will allow you to take risks that you wouldn't otherwise.
- Look closely at what triggers you in your arguments. Your understanding of your own triggers—and that many of them are not about your partner but bring you emotionally to a negative place—may help you react differently. Be willing to discuss these triggers and share the experiences that worry you, as well as the memories that may come up in those interactions.
- Take responsibility for your part in the relationship and some of the problems. Be vulnerable and get comfortable with yourself. Accept help from your partner without seeing it as winning or losing.
- Embrace things in the relationship when it's just doing ok. Recognize the ebb and flow of relationships. Allow some distance and withdrawal to occur some of the time. We all occasionally need time to just figure things out. Pulling away is not a problem when your partner understands the reasons for it. It's not a threat when it's due to loving each other and helping the relationship. Sharing this allows your partner to realize that it's not running away from problems.
- Share your life. Include your partner into your world as you would your best friend. Focus on giving love. Genuine happiness is not about feeling good about ourselves, it's about sharing our love with someone when we know that we are the most important thing in their world. The outcome of loving others so deeply is that we are loved deeply.
That was the big question I needed answered: how can we connect with our partners in a deep emotional way and deal with the real issues of what is missing? I began to realize my professional training was inadequate to help the couples to whom I had dedicated my life. It was like fixing a hemorrhage with a band aid. Couples kept coming back to me with new problems. I am supposed to help them, so why did they keep coming back?????
What I learned was that couples struggle with symptoms of a lack of attachment. If couples are close, they are able to resolve problems together. Nothing is too hard or causes too much conflict. Without being connected in a relationship, the world can feel like a very scary and intimidating place. The question is how to feel secure with your partner so that you don't perceive them to be the enemy or think that they are getting in the way of you getting your needs met.
When you feel close to and secure with someone, you will be able to negotiate your emotions with them. By doing so, you will be able to work through any problems. You'll be able to express yourself without fear that you are going to lose the other person or have to deal with inappropriate anger and withdrawal. That is a loving relationship.
Scientific research shows that secure attachment during childhood happens when the following things occur:
- The mother is holding the child and is very responsive to the child. The child's affection and presence needs are met. The child grows in healthy ways.
- A child needs something and the mother gives it to the child. Responding quickly means the child feels important.
- The child is sick and the mother takes the child to the doctor. The message communicates, "My mother will always take care of me and attend to my needs. I can relax and feel assured of this. The world is a safe place."
Notice the similarities: the needs are being met by a particular person who is caring and loving to the child. The child then recognizes that the person cares so much that they will do whatever it takes for them.
It's possible to establish a secure attachment to someone we love even if they don't come from secure maternal caretakers. Even as adults we need the same security we did early on. No, that doesn't mean that there is something wrong with us!! We all need it.
How do you make this change? Couples need to begin to have experiences that will allow them to see their partner in a new light. You identify and talk about your needs and wants, which will make you feel close to one another. Making the connection will have the two of will never feeling as if you've never been closer!! The great part is that therapy isn't always necessary. Some couples can do this on their own by learning and reading material that is out there. Sometimes it may take a professional to help you have these dialogues, but many couples can do this on their own. Each person can become aware of their attachment needs and talk about them. It becomes very powerful. Negotiating their relationships in this way, couples feel closer to one another, more aware of the needs that they each have and realize the solution they have for their most important needs can be resolved with their partner. When you feel this kind of security, your love can never be broken. Everything you want and need is right in front of you. Enjoy your love!!!
Stuart is a Marriage and Family counselor with a private practice in Scottsdale Arizona. Stuart's practice is exclusive to individuals, couples and families who are having relationship difficulties. Stuart has advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, helping families who are having difficulty feeling close and connected to one another. He assists families in finding ways to deepen their relationships by understanding what each person needs in the relationship. He helps families develop a pathway to establishing a closeness where everyone feels important and special. For more information on his practice go to www.TheCouplesExpertScottsdale.com.
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