Our anxiety tends to shift us into a black and white, right or wrong stance that leads us towards blame and conflict or dissatisfaction. We want to know, "Who's fault is it?" or we get caught up in thinking it's about "communication" problems. In a way it is about communication, but for me I'm often wondering more about what is it that gets in the way of communicating effectively? Most people have a good idea of what good communication consists of so how come they aren't able to do it when their emotional self gets stirred up? Ah, so it's about emotional intensity and your ability to manage yourself within the intensity as much as it's about communication skills....

While we are responsible for our actions in a relationship we are often driven by emotional patterns that have developed throughout our life that play out in our relationships.

Our ability to identify and be aware of those patterns and triggers allows us to be more thoughtful and less anxious or "emotionally" driven.

Don't get me wrong, emotions are not bad things, but we want to be in charge of our emotions rather than have them in charge of us. It's the difference between being "needy" as opposed to thoughtfully entering into emotional intimacy when we want to connect.


Living and loving optimally means being enough of a self to show up in a relationship, to be "present" (and accounted for). It's about knowing who we are such that we don't get threatened when our partner isn't at their best...when they are "working out their stuff." It's then that we want to be able to give them room to be themselves and not take their actions personally.

Optimal relationships are generally about knowing who we are and being "present" with our partner so that they experience all of us and us all of them. Then we experience all of life...
 
After all, isn't that what we want? Someone we can be ourselves with "warts and all" and still be loved unconditionally? Now, that's not easy, but it's satisfying.

That's true intimacy...
"The marriage is a functioning partnership. The spouses can enjoy the full range of emotional intimacy without either being de-selfed by the other. They can be autonomous selfs together or alone... The differentiated person is always aware of others and the relationship system around him or her."

"The basic pattern in conflictual marriage is one in which neither gives in to the other or in which neither is capable of an adaptive role... The relationship cycles through periods of intense closeness, conflict that provides a period of emotional distance, and making up, which starts another cycle of intense closeness.
                                                                                                               ~ Murray Bowen M.D.
Couples Therapy
"...because we all just want to be happy with our lives and have satisfying relationships and family experiences..."