For achieving lasting love in marriage or relationships, both partners need to tune into each other’s deepest needs and longings. Both partners will also need to communicate those needs and longings into understandable signals that allows the other to respond. Then, each partner accepts the other partner’s love and support rather than invalidating or dismissing it.
In many relationships, the needs, longings, and fears are kept hidden and come out in destructive ways rather than communicated. In couples counseling with Emotionally Focused Therapy, the goal is to acknowledge the needs and longings so that the relationship provides partners the love they both need.
In my counseling with couples, I often hear one partner provide a list of things he or she does to show love such as doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, working overtime hours, fixing things around the house, and cooking dinners. They ask, “Why does my spouse keep complaining that I don’t share my emotions more or cuddle?”
Susan Johnson writes, “Because that’s just the way we are made. We need someone to pay real attention, to hold us tight, to come very close sometimes and respond to us in an emotional way that moves us, connects with us. Nothing compares with that. You need that, too. Have you forgotten?”
Often what brings couples closer in the beginning of the relationship (touch, romance, pursuit, safety, joy, etc.) becomes less and less overtime. Love involves touch, care taking, lovemaking, companionship, services, time, words of affirmation, gratitude, and serving your partner’s needs and longings. Sex in marriage is best when both partners feel safe in the connection. Couples that are secure show more sensitivity to the needs of their partner. A secure relationship bond relieves the anxiety and defensiveness so that partners can tune in to and effectively support the other.
This is why I feel so passionate about Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples (EFT). EFT helps to heal the insecure bond so that the relationship can begin to heal. EFT helps couples learn to attune to emotion and allow it to guide what we need and what our our partners need. When one partner reaches for the other in need and the other responds, the magical healing transforms the relationship. EFT guides couples to “breath deep and tune in to your own and your beloved’s emotions, to risk, to reach, to confide, to hold.”