Humans are creatures of habit and patterns in how they connect with themselves and each other. I want to focus this blog on couples and how they connect within their relationship. Is their ability to connect healthy or destructive to the relationship?
The start of a relationship can be relaxed, happy and full of passion. It’s a beautiful time to connect and get to know each other at a deeper level. After a while the passion slows down for most couples as they progress through their life together. It’s a completely normal experience. You may move in together, get married, have children etc These events have the potential to be exciting and also stressful.When stress occurs your relationship can suffer. If you and your partner don’t know how to effectively communicate what your needs are, you can be left feeling frustrated and eventually resentful of the other.
Being an effective communicator means letting your partner know what’s wrong or what you need without causing conflict. Lack of communication is the biggest killer of a marriage. If you can’t communicate what you need you internalise your problem, which can result in symptoms such as depression or anxiety or be expressed as anger. Eventually communication may happen only through fighting, yelling, or not talking to one another for days. If this goes on for an extended period the new pattern you are creating is how to connect through being confrontational. Connecting through disconnection. Even though it’s unpleasant it’s still a way of connecting. For example ,maybe you stop talking to your partner, waiting for them to give you attention by asking t “what’s wrong?” Although It’s not a happy relationship, there is connection at some level and some needs are still being met. Or perhaps one of you starts an argument with the other just so you can connect.
New neural pathways are being formed by repeating the same behaviour, so this becomes your pattern of connecting.
This is usually when couples come to see me, because not only has the communication stopped but also being physically intimate has stopped., Basically all the fun has been zapped out of the relationship. Now you’re connecting but you’re miserable, and it can’t be sustained any longer. If this behaviour continues one of you will give up. Perhaps you’ll still stay in the relationship but the fire has disappeared. You can’t even be bothered to connect via arguing any longer, you’ve emotionally ‘checked out’ of the relationship and the next step is to physically leave. At this point you are both willing to work on the relationship and there is still hope. There needs to be new patterns and tools to apply and this is where marriage counselling has the potential to help.