• Rekindling Romance: Advice from a Couples Therapist

    Has your marriage gone from lusty to lackluster? Have you found yourself in a relationship rut, unsure how to revive the spark that once drew the two of you together? If so, you’re not alone, and it does not necessarily mean that the end of the road is near. What it does mean is that it’s time to step back, reevaluate and take decisive steps to get back on track. Whether you felt disconnected for several weeks or several years, it’s possible to strengthen the bond that once drew you close. Couples therapy can be very effective in repairing damaged relationships, and there are some things you can try on your own.

    But while bringing home an occasional bouquet or scheduling a date night can be beneficial, these tactics aren’t enough to repair longstanding damage. We all need emotional connection and responsiveness in personal relationships — especially our closest ones. In psychological literature, this is referred to as a secure attachment. Over time, our attentiveness to the emotional needs of our partner may diminish. This can be due to our own psychological difficulties (e.g. depression or addiction) or simply because of increased demands and stresses in daily life (e.g. financial and childrearing challenges).

    Where we were once very attuned, attentive and responsive in our intimate relationship, we now may find that we avoid conflicts altogether — along with the emotional needs of our partner. And when this happens repeatedly, our basic sense of emotional safety and security can be compromised. Repairing this damage is one of the primary goals of couples therapy. Unhealthy patterns of dysfunctional communication and behaviors can ensue, thus creating an escalating cycle of detachment — for example, with one partner lashing out and the other withdrawing emotionally.

    But there are steps you can take to break this destructive cycle:

    Awareness. You must first achieve a greater awareness of any detached and destructive patterns, keeping in mind our basic need for connectedness. Seeing the issues creates a greater opportunity to learn how to step outside of them.

    Pattern Disruption. If you’re the one who’s typically verbally aggressive during arguments, you can focus on expressing your vulnerable feelings instead. If you’re the one who normally retreats, you can choose to remain engaged, actively listening to your partner’s feelings of hurt or loneliness.

    Healing Touch. Reconnecting through touch can be another excellent way to break through emotional barriers and reconnect. Reaching for your partner’s hand, a tender embrace or even placing a hand on the shoulder during a difficult moment can help express what may be difficult to put into words. Healing touch can also help deescalate an argument and break an unhealthy pattern of interaction.

    Small Moments. Too often, we only really focus on our relationship when there’s some sort of conflict or problem. But you can take everyday moments and turn them into opportunities to strengthen your bond. Daily rituals of kissing hello and goodbye, connecting at dinnertime and saying thank you instead of taking your partner for granted can go a long way toward fortifying and strengthening your relationship.

    I use Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT) to help couples make changes like these in their relationship. EFT is often able to help couples resolve conflicts and strengthen their bond in as little as 8 to 20 sessions. Call my office today at 407-579-2070 to receive a complimentary couples therapy phone consultation to see if EFT might be right for you. And while bringing home a bouquet is no quick fix for a damaged relationship, it probably wouldn’t hurt to on the 14th of this month.



    Therapy services available via Telehealth.