How Do We Find Love Again? The Quest for Re-Connection

Posted On: Monday, January 18, 2016

Falling in love is intoxicating. It's the best natural high in the world. It fills us with confidence, satisfaction, and assuredness. We feel complete.

Couples seeking marriage counseling are often on a quest to find that awesome feeling they once had, when sexual intimacy was great and each partner looked upon the other with excitement, curiosity, empathy and compassion.

In their first session, Nate reports, "Back then, I could do nothing wrong. She would look at me in such a loving way ... like I was all that mattered." Sara responds ... "that's because back then you really cared about me ... you put me first ... I was important to you. I haven't felt that way in years. "

For this couple, the glow of love, has been replaced with the pallor of negativity and unhappiness. Their mission now is to prove to the other how their feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment are justified. This is demonstrated by pointing to every little blemish, flaw and misstep with criticism and judgment. The partner who shares his or her bed each night is a stranger -- someone who can no longer be trusted and relied upon.

Dr. Susan Johnson describes this as attachment injury. Attachment injury is explained as a sense of utter fear and panic that occurs when that special person in your life emotionally disappears or becomes unresponsive. When this injury occurs, each partner puts on the armor and prepares for war. Feelings of love and connection are replaced with a sense of betrayal and mistrust. The message becomes, "I cannot let you in again. It will hurt too much and I can't risk that."

How does one heal from this injury? The process is very similar to healing after a physical injury. A broken heart is not unlike a broken leg. It must be cared for and nurtured with tenderness and caring. With the help of an emotionally focused therapist, the injury is identified, nurtured and then eventually healed. Emotionally focused therapy addresses the underlying feelings of those defining moments when the injury occurred. Couples identify their personal attachment styles and develop an awareness about their negative interactional cycles. They begin to attune to each other in a way that removes the need for defensiveness and criticism. With that, each partner is able to attune to the other's feelings because it feels safe to do so. This allows them to be open to each other again.

Research suggests that couples wait far too long to seek therapy for their relational problems. The average time is five to seven years. By that time, there has been a lot of emotional injury; and finding your way back to each other requires professional intervention. The way to enhance your relationship requires being open, attuned and responsive to each other. You can learn how to reshape your relationship so that it will be nurtured, protected and grow in love.

Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561-715-6404 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.