Are you struggling with an emotionally unavailable partner, or one who is hysterical and needy? Do you find intimacy challenging and it is harming your relationship? Are you struggling to connect? Is there no communication? Do you, or your partner(s), focus more on work, alcohol, or other people than on the relationship? Or are you fighting about the same things over and over and struggling to find a solution? Are you foreseeing a break up, and wondering if there is anything you can try first? Is the passion gone, and you find yourself wanting more sex? Are you surviving infidelity? Or are you about to get married and considering premarital counseling?
Relationships can be extremely challenging. After some time together, many of us begin to feel disconnected, questioning whether or not we should break up or get a divorce. Or we check out, become emotionally unavailable, and feel less and less for each other. We can feel lonely in our relationship, and it hurts.
Sometimes we may aim that hurt at our partner(s) or vice versa. We find ourselves annoyed by many things they do. Or we cannot seem to have a serious conversation without fighting.
Some of us may be surviving infidelity, and are wondering if we can ever trust again. Or perhaps there was an emotional affair, and our feelings are deeply hurt. The list goes on and on.
It is natural for relationships to have problems.
It sucks. But it is natural and to be expected.
When we enter into intimate relationships, we share our thoughts, emotions, and dreams. Their problems become our problems, and we give them our bodies in sex. This is vulnerability. We open internal doors that we open for few others. For most of us, the last time we were this open and vulnerable was in past relationships, or as a child in our parents' care. Because of this, intimate relationships bring out a part of ourselves that has often not been touched since we were young and still learning how to connect.
The way we learned to be in relationship as infants greatly influences the way we show up in relationships as adults. Our style of relating—known as our attachment style—is programmed early, but, thankfully, can be reprogramed at any time.
We now know that when we are triggered in relationship, the part of our brains that registers threat is highly activated. We also know that this sense of threat is often related to past wounding that occurred in relationship. Fortunately, this wound heals wonderfully in intimate relationships when the proper conditions are in place.
How Can Couples Counseling Help?
In my couples counseling, I draw heavily from the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) and from Dynamic Attachment Repatterning (DARe) to work with your ability to connect in a mindfulness-based way.
In this type of therapy, you will:
Learn to listen
Locate your own and each other’s triggers
Learn ways to soothe yourself and your partner(s)
Get to the root of disconnection
Deepen your ability to take in love and affection
What To Expect . . .
We start by investigating the issues arising in the relationship. We address these through the triggers that happen in real time during our discussion. What is often found after applying mindful awareness to these issues is early attachment problems affecting our current relationship. We then learn how to tend to those in ourselves and in each other.
Finally, we establish new ways of working with destructive cycles that often come about because of these younger issues. This work can contribute not only to our relationship healing, but to healing of each of us as individuals.
This form of couples counseling is reliably effective, and can improve a relationship in a much shorter time than you might expect. When all parties want more connection and security, it is possible to achieve it.
It is challenging and extremely rewarding work. With attention, intimate relationships can be our greatest source of inspiration and repair.
Chris Cannon, MA, CAS
Chris holds a master's degree in Mindfulness-Based Clinical Counseling and is a Certified Addiction Specialist in Colorado. He is also formally trained in Somatic Experiencing and attachment theory. He enjoys digging for records, hiking, and watching Little Women, over and over.