We need to be able to reach out to others at times to share emotionally or to get support or reassurance. Intimate relationship is certainly the place we would like to go to get that quality of connection. And we also need to be able to soothe ourselves, to stand on our own feet emotionally at the appropriate times. Ideally we would be good at doing both: connecting for support when we feel vulnerable and regulating our own emotions independently.
In reality we are usually better at one style of emotional regulation than the other. Often people are attracted into relationships where the partner has the opposite style of handling their emotions.
So when the couple comes into conflict, one will tend to want to connect while the other needs some space to settle down and process what is happening. Developing mindfulness about one’s own ways of dealing with distress helps us to teach our partner what we need. Mindfulness and respect for our partner’s primary method is a big help.
As much as it is challenging to mindfully observe both our self as well as our partner in times of conflict, the reward will be to come out of conflict sooner.
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Nancy Christie BFA, CYW
170 The Donway West
North York Ontario
Certified Sensory Motor Psychotherapist Advanced Practitioner
Member Canadian Association for Psychodynamic Therapy
Member of the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
Clinical Member of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists