Couples often come into my therapy office because they are no longer “in love” with their partner. Whether you are married or in a long term committed relationship, it is important to know how a couple therapist might be able to help you with the loss of loving feelings in your relationship. The good news is that it is possible to get those feelings back.
What is love anyway and how do we lose it?
Love is the feeling of closeness in significant relationships. It could be described as being on the same page emotionally, feeling “in sync” with each other, and emotionally “in tune” together. According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, love comes from sharing positive emotions together, which leads to wanting to invest in each other’s wellbeing.
When you love, you form an attachment bond to your significant other (Johnson, 2004). This attachment is actually a biological survival mechanism to help you feel safe in the world. When you know you are emotionally safe with your significant other and that they will consistently be there for you—you develop a deeper level of closeness, love, and attachment to them.
However, those love feelings, closeness, and sense of emotional safety can diminish when you feel that your partner isn’t consistently there for you emotionally. When this happens, people often respond by trying to get their partner to participate more in the relationship, or by emotionally shutting down to prevent conflict. When one partner fights for the relationship while the other shuts down to prevent conflict, both partners feel misunderstood and alone. This is the ultimate communication trap that leads to a loss of love. (Johnson, 2014)
How does a couple therapist help you with love?
An EFT couple therapist will help you understand the communication pattern you and your partner have been stuck in that has contributed to you both feeling alone and misunderstood in the relationship—the precursor to losing the “in love” feelings. Once the patterns has been recognized, your therapist will help you change the communication pattern by helping you construct your discussions in a clearer way. In other words, the therapist is a “process consultant” (Johnson, 2004, p.11) that helps you understand the pattern in your relationship communication in order to change it.
When you and your partner have different definitions of love?
Sometimes couples come from difficult cultural or family backgrounds and have a different expectation on what love means. This is something an EFT couple therapist can directly help you with by helping each person in the relationship explore and share what helps them feel loved. A common difference between couples is that one partner longs for sex and physical touch to feel emotionally close in the relationship; where as the other partner may long for verbal expressions of love or help with household tasks. A negative communication pattern may prevent the couple from discussing how these activities add to feelings of love, and the couple may instead get trapped in criticism and blaming each other. The EFT therapist will help the couple change the communication pattern in order to assist the discussion of what can help each person feel loved in their relationship.
While this is a brief overview of love in relationship and how an EFT couple therapist can help, you can always set up a free consultation session to ask other questions you may have, or you can check out the info about EFT on our website. The summary point is that you don’t have to be in a loveless relationship; the positive feelings of closeness can be recreated with the help of an EFT couple therapist and changing the communication pattern that keeps you stuck in your relationship.