One of the ironies of marital discord is that we may yearn to reconnect so much with our partner that our efforts to do so only create more conflict.
In our attempts to restore intimacy, we fall into habitual, painful arguments. And so, we create a harmful cycle that can push us farther away from each other rather than draw us back together.
This is a classic pattern known as Pursue/Withdraw.
One of you is likely the Pursuer and has a deep desire for connection with your partner. You try countless ways to come closer—but this typically doesn’t work as you hope. The other of you is often a Withdrawer. You also want connection, but you struggle to find words or responses for the Pursuer. You find yourself pulling away, either out of anger or just because you don’t know how to respond.
What can provide a solution for this pattern?
Emotionally Focused Therapy
Fortunately, this harmful cycle can be overcome through Emotionally Focused Therapy. How?
It provides ways to help you learn to reframe your relationship issues. And it offers new insights into understanding each other and restoring intimacy.
EFT is rooted in the science of attachment theory. It was developed in the 1980s and has a strong track record of effectiveness. EFT includes identifiable steps and ways to measure growth through the counseling process. Empirical studies have demonstrated that it works.
Creating deep emotional bonds is a central task of our development from the earliest days of life. Ideally, we develop very close attachments to our caregivers during infancy. We instinctively need the sense of safety and acceptance found in healthy attachments.
Our need for emotional security and belonging doesn’t end once we reach adulthood. All of us need to continue building close, supportive relationships. This includes friendships, romantic relationships, and connections with our own children.
But, what happens when we can’t maintain attachment?
As most of us have experienced, roadblocks in achieving and maintaining attachment are common. This reality is no one’s fault. In fact, finding a way to understand our disconnects with our partners is the first step to establishing a stronger attachment with them.
The distress both of you are experiencing in your relationship is a sign that you are crying out for each other. Your desire is to reconnect.
How Emotionally Focused Therapy Works
During EFT sessions, you will have the advantage of the skilled guidance of a neutral third party. The therapist is there to establish a place of safety where both of you can work through the problems and conflict in your relationship.
This is a place free of judgment or condemnation. The therapist won’t take sides or tell you what to do. Rather, they will help you learn more effective ways to communicate and re-establish your connection. As one of you begins to change, the relationship itself is affected positively.
One of the main goals of EFT is to help you learn to respond more thoughtfully and slowly to your partner. Therapists have found that many relationship problems begin with miscommunication. You may misinterpret the things your partner says or does. Likewise, they do the same.
Resentment, hurt, distrust, and distance begin to build due to this miscommunication. And so, reacting with anger or withdrawal becomes habitual.
While other forms of therapy focus on changing behaviors and thoughts, EFT goes deeper. It can teach you to change your actual emotional responses—how to move beyond harmful reactions. Your therapist will work with both of you on how to root your responses in understanding, sensitivity, and empathy. This way, you can restore your connection.
The beauty of EFT is that it helps you grow skills to work out future conflicts together, even after you’ve completed therapy. You’ll be able to understand the deeper desires for attachment behind your arguments and miscommunications. This will help you solve your problems together, as a team.
Are you ready to explore how EFT can revitalize your relationship? Please reach out and contact our office for more information.