In 2017, we learned about conflict, the importance of emotional connection, and intimacy. We also interviewed people like Amir Levine, Stan Tatkin, and Scott Wooley to help you learn how to fight better and lover better too. I’m excited to share the 10 most read articles published on KyleBenson.net in 2017.
Sexually happy couples are emotionally attuned to each other inside and outside of the bedroom. Making sex more intimate and romantic is really about being vulnerable enough to share your sexual desires, focusing on intimacy over orgasm, and building a deep understanding of what turns your partner on and off.
A research study that followed 168 couples for 13 years discovered that the #1 predictor of why couples split was not how often they fought, but how emotionally responsive they were to each other. Think of conflict as an inflammation from the virus of emotional disconnection. In every moment we have three choices in how we respond to our partners. We can emotionally connect with them and deepen our relationship, or we can disconnect from them. The choice is yours.
Every couple has what Dr. Gottman calls an Emotional Bank Account. When we turn towards our partner’s bids for connection, we make a deposit. When we turn away, we make a withdrawal. Just like a real bank account, a zero balance is trouble. An Emotional Bank Account grows when partners make more deposits than withdrawals. Happy couples form different habits than unhappy couples do.
When we are no longer open to getting to know our partners, we are no longer open to a relationship or receiving love. The illusion of a committed relationship is that we know our partners completely. The more you seek to explore your partner’s inner world, emotions, and thoughts, the more rewarding and meaningful your relationship will be.
The pursue-withdraw pattern is one of the more difficult patterns to step out of because it activates our deepest fears: being abandoned, and being controlled. In this interview, Scott Woolley explains why this happens and how to turn things around.
Everyone has withdrawn from a relationship when we felt hurt or fearful of saying the wrong thing. This pause allows us to get creative about how to solve the problem. But consistent withdrawal is toxic. Most romantic partners do not understand the profound impact distancing has on a bond. As Dr. Gottman highlights, “If either spouse refuses to communicate when conflict arises, it can be hard to heal a marriage.”
In an anxious-avoidant relationship, there tends to be a sense of “stable instability.” These relationships have lots of fights due to a reinforcement of each other’s insecurities. The avoidant partner may think, “Oh, my partner is clingy,” but what they don’t understand is that it’s not their partner. It’s a pattern that is being created between two people that make it this way.
Relationships don’t need big gestures. A secure relationship is actually about doing the small things that make the relationship more secure, such as being consistent, available, responsive, reliable, and predictable. This keeps a relationship calm and stable.
According to psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, the difference between “good mothers and bad mothers is not the omission of errors but what they do with them.” This is no different in our romantic relationships. The difference between happy couples and unhappy couples is not that happy couples don’t make mistakes. We all do. How couples handle conflict resolution is what separates the relationship Masters from the Disasters.
Every relationship is presented with certain emotional tasks that partners need to accomplish together. This comes down to attaining a rich understanding between partners. A relationship needs this understanding in order for both people to feel safe and secure in it. Here are four common challenges couples face, and practical advice for addressing them.
That’s the best of 2017. I look forward to sharing more effective advice with you in 2018.
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