Couples are spending less and less time together. I think this has been going on for a very long time, but now we’re starting to pay more attention to it. Separateness is now seen as normal relationship behavior. It’s so prevalent that even marriage education programs are finding it necessary to change their rules. In the past you had to attend with your mate, now you can come solo.
For some couples leading separate lives isn’t a problem, but for others it causes a lot of emotional strain. If you want more togetherness there is something you can try. It’s called “emotionally focused therapy (EFT)”. Apparently, the techniques guide couples to recognize that they are emotionally attached to the partners, in much the same way children are attached to their parents. The goal is to teach both partners to be more open, responsive and forgiving. Isn’t that the goal for every type of couples therapy?
In a a typical EFT session, the therapist explores why the husband withdraws from the relationship and it’s usually because he feels intimidated and helpless. The wife who is angry expands that anger to fear and sadness. Nirvana is achieved when the true emotions are finally exposed. Only then is it possible for the husband to assert his need for respect and become more accessible to his wife. And the wife can also ask for the comfort she needs. This new cycle of bonding interactions replaces the negative cycles of pursue/withdraw or criticize/defend and you’re on your way to a happier relationship.
As I said that scenario is nirvana. What usually happens – the couples leave the therapist’s office and the old behavior patterns return. For change to occur both partners have to be totally committed. They have to be willing to put the past behind them, forgive and start fresh. But maybe that just happens in the movies. Remember in Sex and the City when Miranda and Steve agreed to meet halfway on the Brooklyn Bridge? This symbolized they were both ready to make their relationship work. I wonder if they followed through? Guess we’ll have to wait for the next installment to find out.