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If couples aren’t well attuned to one another, their unsuccessful attempts to reach out can drive reactive coping behaviors. These coping patterns can become predictive and develop into negative cycles. When partners cope with their emotions in this way, they end up triggering each other repeatedly in a self-perpetuating cycle of emotional triggers and coping behaviors. These feedback loops can prevent partners from resolving their issues and keep them stuck in their positions.
This makes sense, as romantic relationships hold significant importance to us, and any threat to their security can trigger reactive behaviors and intense emotions. These patterns tend to occur unconsciously, and it’s easier to notice what our partner is doing than to recognize our own involvement in negative cycles.
Maintaining a healthy relationship requires intentional effort, much like the way healthy habits are necessary to sustain our physical well-being. However, the world we live in today is oftentimes full of distractions and constant activity, making it increasingly difficult to uphold a strong relationship without deliberate action.
Every day, couples frequently face constant demands from their work, family and friends, leading to emotional misattunement with their partner. Though usually a result of distraction rather than intentional disregard, a lack of responsiveness can be perceived as a rejection, which leads to hurt and negative impacts on the relationship. As partners experience rejection, they become more and more hesitant to take emotional risks, leading to self-protection and problematic relationship patterns. Even subtle changes in behaviors can trigger negative cycles that cause a sense of distance between partners, which can threaten the relationship.
"We cannot go back and start over, but we can begin now, and make a new ending.”
Enter Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT). Backed by decades of research, EFT is a highly-effective therapy that’s been shown to help couples, individuals and families improve their emotional well-being and relationships.
Based on the idea that emotions are at the core of human experience and that emotional experiences are shaped by our relationships with one another, EFT emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for couples to explore and express their emotions.
Using EFT, our therapists work to identify patterns of behavior and communication that are contributing to persistent, negative emotional experiences and help couples to develop new, more positive patterns.
By breaking down these negative cycles and consistently disengaging from them, couples can better understand their emotional tendencies and develop flexibility and techniques to create positive emotional connections.
All relationships have their challenges and there is no foolproof recipe for a perfect one. Nevertheless, by establishing a relationship that prioritizes self-awareness, awareness of your partner, healthy communication and the ability to manage each other’s nervous systems during times of conflict, you can both create more room for intimacy, growth, and meaningful life moments.
So, if you and your partner are:
struggling to connect but committed to better understanding your negative cycles
wanting to build healthy communication skills and strategies
willing to utilize new methods to heal and connect with one another
Take the first step toward strengthening your relationship by reaching out to one of our counselors at Steady Hope.
Also, if you’re engaged, hoping to build your communication and relationship skills to facilitate a positive beginning to your marriage, consider connecting with one of our certified Prepare and Enrich Premarital Counselors who can walk you and your partner through a comprehensive assessment and bring focus to strength and growth areas in your relationship.
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, engaged or married, at Steady Hope Counseling, we aim to help you and your partner find healthy ways to communicate, resolve conflicts and facilitate difficult-yet-necessary conversations, while also creating a safe place for you and your partner to explore your relationship and express your vulnerabilities.