5 Things Couples Must Do To Connect Emotionally
- You must Listen to what your partner is saying about what their needs, feelings, or wants are. In session I tell people to turn on their mental tape recorder and just repeat back word for word what their partner just said.
- You must make sure you Understand what your partner just said not just in words but what the emotion behind the words were. In session I tell people to use the phrase, “OK so what you just said was…Help Me Understand.” Be very curious about what your partner said. The phase “Help Me Understand truly conveys that you are trying to attune to your partner because he/she is so important to you.
- You must Validate what your partner just said and felt. There is no arguing, disagreeing, discounting, etc. You get to a place where you can say, “So what you just said was you felt put down and unimportant when you cannot get my attention to discuss something important to you. That makes sense.
- This leads you to be able to Empathize with how he/she feels. In session I make sure the listening partner feels the same emotions that their partner is feeling right now.
- Finally, the listener must Follow what his or her own emotions are telling him or her what to do. In session I help the listener to first empathize and then look within to feel what their own emotion is saying. For example the listener may say, “I am sorry I said that to you that way please forgive me and I will try to be more careful about making you feel as important to me as you really are. Will you forgive me?
This is what I have couples practice in session because they must develop new neural networks in their right brain or what are often called the limbic networks of the brain. This is at the heart of the emotionally focused therapy (EFT) that I do with most of my couples clients. It is difficult to do yourselves without outside help, but once you practice this and some of the other things we do in emotionally focused sessions, emotional connection happens quite quickly. Then we use this same process to resolve past unresolved emotional ruptures so that the very things that forced couples apart became the same things that now draw them close together. At least the way I do this, it often has miraculous results to be truly honest.
I often find that even with very spiritually mature Christian couples that they are not emotionally close and do not know how to connect emotionally. Few men have any idea of how to give themselves to their spouses as Christ gave Himself to the church (Ephesians 5:25). Often times even spiritually mature women have almost entirely lost the sense of admiration or respect they had when they fell in love to begin with (1 Peter 3:1) Thus when I practice EFT with Christian couples I am helping them rewire the brain so as to be able to follow Scripture and enjoy the oneness that God has planned for them at the level of emotional connection. I love it! But you will likely not be able to do this without a EFT-trained Christian counselor like myself helping you.
Warm regards, Dr. Bruce