As a couples counselor and EFT practitioner, I work with people who are struggling and failing in their love relationships. While the issues that trigger them vary, the core of the problem is striking in their similarities. They come to me talking about something that their partner does, or doesn’t do, how they cannot agree on even the smallest issue or decision together. They’ve lost that connected relationship. The conflicts escalate and they start to view each other through this lens of negativity that causes them to assume they know how their partner is going to react before the reaction ever happens. My challenge and my mission is to assist them to rebuild the lost emotional connection and one of the main ingredients in doing this is to have them realize and then tell and more importantly, to show their partner how important they are to them. It changes their perception to thinking about what a difference they make to each other’s lives and to express that in a way that makes them feel it.
Feeling loved and important is at the core of a connected relationship. If you’ve lost that emotional connection you have work to do to get it back. We start with baby steps in the therapeutic setting and come up with scenarios where each partner demonstrates how important the other partner is to their life. After being in a cycle where they fight and fight and sometimes say terrible, hurtful things to one another, it can be a hard habit to change. They have to reframe the way they interact, and the way they perceive and see each other and the role they play in each other’s lives and in the relationship. It comes down to treating each other as precious and important and really being loving and kind to one another, even if they don’t quite feel it yet. That is the pathway back to a connected relationship.
When couples are at odds with each other, they see each other as adversaries. So the focus is on defending themselves from the other person. In a connected relationship, the focus is on what can they do to love, support, encourage and help their partner? It marks two different extremes. It’s a process of changing the way they interact together. They know they are reaching the goal of a close connected relationship when one can say to the other. “What matters to me is what matters to you. What’s important to you is important to me. I will do what it takes to have you be the one that feels important.” How many of you can truthfully say this? Think about that!
If your partner is making you the focus, making what matters to you what matters to them, you’re well on your way to that connected relationship that we all crave. You both can be doing this for each other in a deep and sincere way. If you’re not, step back and do an honest evaluation of your role in the relationship. Are you making it all about yourself? Is the focus inward? Are you in that defensive and negative mode that I mentioned earlier? Where you feel like your partner is your adversary and not on your side? What matters to you should be what matters to your partner. This is a two-way street that leads to a close and connected relationship. If you’re not making your partner feel loved and important you can start today. Turn to your partner and tell them just how important they are to you. How much they bring to your life. How they make your life better. What matters to you?
Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters.
His weekend workshop, Two Days: Seven Conversations has become a popular venue for many to set off on their journey of connectedness. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart’s Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. He lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona.