Spring clean your relationship

In our couple relationships, it is very easy to fall into habits of relating that restrict both of us. Over the years, without noticing, you and your partner may have gradually adopted opposing positions, which get played out repeatedly in arguments.

This polarising can be attributed to what is termed ‘projective identification.’ It occurs when one half of a couple projects feelings into the other, that they find unacceptable or too troubling in themselves.

For example, it is not uncommon in a relationship for one partner to express most of the emotion, whilst the other operates from a more rational thinking place. The emotional partner becomes increasingly upset, whilst the rational partner might try to ‘find a solution’. The emotional partner experiences this as unresponsive; the rational partner experiences the other as accusing, and perhaps aggressive. Both retreat from the other. These increasingly polarised positions become more entrenched with each argument.

However, at the root of these arguments is actually a longing for deeper connection, a desire to be understood and a desire to really be heard by the other.

This is where couples therapy comes in.

The therapist creates a space where you can communicate with each other in a less charged way. It offers a place for you to speak about your experience of your relationship, and perhaps more importantly to really listen to your partner’s experience. Slowly you come to recognise the feelings you both share. In the scenario, I have described it is likely that both parties feel misunderstood, lonely and resentful.

Over the course of therapy, you gain a deeper understanding of each other, and perhaps reclaim that aspect of yourself you may have disowned. So the rational partner rediscovers the emotional side of him or herself, and the emotional partner reclaims the rational. As the balance is restored, you find that communication becomes less polarised, and that you are able to operate from a place of mutual understanding and respect.

So, as we emerge from the gloom of winter, why not give some attention to your loved one and breathe fresh life into you relationship.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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