1. It is natural for Humans to seek close connection. The human brain is wired for close emotional and physical connection with a few irreplaceable others. Accepting your need for this special kind of emotional connection is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity and strength.
2. Every marriage experiences times of struggle and sadness. Hurts and fears from distant or recent past register and are stored in the emotional part of our brains and can become “raw spots” that are easily remembered. Learning to speak a clear message about those hurts and fears allow us to more easily navigate the pain associated with that. Moving through and past these moments with feelings of acceptance and understanding help eliminate some of the inadvertent pain we cause our partners.
3. Relationships are strengthened when we reach for help when we struggle. Creating a “Safe Haven” is one of the deepest emotional longings for humans. We are able to explore our world, grow individually and take risks for achievement when we feel we have a safe and secure relationship from which to explore. This is a survival strategy that is in our DNA. Learning to reach toward our partner in struggles rather than attacking or turning away is a key strategy for a “Safe Haven.”
4. Relationships can survive individual differences. Successful relationships do not require us to be “the same.” We can find our way to close connection even if we seem very different. The one thing that will cause a relationship to continually deteriorate is emotional disconnection. Research in Emotionally Focused Therapy has shown that more than relational conflict, emotional disconnection is toxic to secure relationships.
5. Expecting that perfect marriage is a trap for unmet expectations. When “Happily ever after” isn’t our experience and what we see from others is their very best we can become discouraged, and feel like a failure at the most important part of our lives. Life is not a 2 hour movie that ends on the positive moment. “Happily Ever After” is a journey, not a destination, and is much easier if we have a map. Emotional presence is a key for navigation.
6. Arguments are rarely what they seem. We find that the content of arguments is just the tip of the iceberg. These conflicts are usually more about a protest against the feeling of relationship distress and emotional disconnection fueled by a negative pattern of reaction to the protest. Learning to see the pattern and understand the trap of this pattern will help couples move to a place where they can discover a person who is really Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged in a supportive way. This provides for close attachment and an ability to soothe the needs and fears that are under the surface.
7. We only have two ways to cope when we can’t connect in love. We can get mad and move in fast to break down the other’s walls, or we can try not to care so much and build a wall to protect ourselves. Which one do you do? A “love law” from emotionally focused couple therapy is to overcome unhealthy ways of coping in love relationships.
8. Affection is the best tips for a long, happy love relationship. Hugging, holding hands, caressing, and physically reaching out to your partner is an antidote to stress, and the best way to build a better marriage. Cuddle hormones turn off stress hormones!
9. Passion and Intimacy are possible in long-term love relationships. Relationships often begin with infatuation and passion and according to research it is possible to maintain deep passion and intimacy in relationships. It is fostered by secure emotional connection and romance can last a lifetime if it is nurtured and worked at.
10. There is incredible power in feeling safe to ask for our emotional needs to be met and reaching out to meet the emotional needs of our romantic partner. Openness and vulnerability require courage, honesty, and humility. As we learn to create this connection it is transforming for relationships.