There is one book I recommend for any couple that comes to see me: "Hold Me Tight," by Dr. Sue Johnson. This book is based on research on adult attachment and gives a solid guide for couples wanting to work through conflict or disconnection. Sue Johnson's focus on emotional engagement, combined with decades of research, has enabled her to create a powerful roadmap for couples to become "unstuck."
The first four conversations in the book are all about reducing the negative interactions that leave you feeling hurt or disconnected. These conversations also help you and your partner to create new ways of engaging with each other so that emotions and thoughts can be expressed in a more connecting way.
The next two conversations guide you through addressing big hurts in the relationship and addressing any issues related to sexual intimacy.
And the final conversation helps to sustain the relationship's new level of connection and intimacy.
Now let's go into these seven conversations in more detail:
#1 - Recognizing demon dialogues
In this step, couples begin to recognize their negative cycle, mapping out their interactions step by step. The reason is that becoming aware of the negative pattern allows couples to gain enough perspective to stop themselves from letting the cycle continue.
#2 - Finding the raw spots
"Raw spot" can be interchangeably used with "trigger," but I prefer the term "raw spot" because it describes an area of sensitivity, a pain point, that sends a partner into the negative cycle. In this step, each partner explores their own raw spots and tells their partner when, in their life, this first became a raw spot for them.
#3 - revisiting a rocky moment
This conversation is all about reducing conflict, making repairs after arguments, and creating a more secure base for the couple to re-engage fully in the relationship.
#4 - Hold Me Tight®
This is where partners begin connecting with each other in a new way. Here they will practice engaging in the A.R.E, as in, "are you there for me?" A.R.E stands for Availability, Responsiveness, and Engagement. These three components are the foundation of intimacy and safety in a relationship.
#5 - forgiving injuries
In this conversation, the couple works to identify areas of hurt and resentment that have not been fully healed. They will be guided into healing conversations about these past wounds so that past hurts don't get in the way of the couple's connection and intimacy in the present.
#6 - bonding through sex and touch
This conversation will be about how to enhance physical connection and sexual engagement. Furthermore, Dr. Sue Johnson addresses the old myth that sexual satisfaction decreases the longer one is in a committed relationship.
#7 - keeping your love alive
The last conversation helps the couple to become aware of the changes they've made, and addresses how these changes can be sustained long-term.
getting additional support
This book has helped many couples to achieve a more satisfying relationship. Still, there may be additional work that needs to be done in the relationship. That is why Dr. Sue Johnson created the model of therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), wherein a trained therapist guides couples out of the negative patterns of interaction and into a deeper, more loving dynamic.
The easiest way to find an EFT therapist is to go to PsychologyToday.com, enter your zip code, filter the search by Types of Therapy, and check Emotionally Focused. Be sure to read the description of each therapist to see if EFT is their main model or if it is only one of the many models they've dabbled in.
And if you live in or near Phoenix, Arizona, reach out to me on my website to schedule an Emotionally Focused Couple or Individual therapy session.