Book Club: Hold Me Tight, Second Conversation

Over the next few weeks, we will be reading the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Want to go back to the beginning of the series? Just click here.

The second conversation Dr. Sue Johnson tackles is Raw Spots. Pretty much everyone has them – pockets of emotional vulnerability and hyper-sensitivity that can cause us to react less-than-rationally. Often, when a partner unknowingly hits the other’s raw spots during a conversation or argument, it starts to go off the rails and devolve into the demon dialogues we discussed last week.

Much of the chapter is taken up with discussing examples of what a raw spot can look like. You see, they’re not always so obvious, and neither are their triggers. For instance, someone using the same turn of phrase as a childhood bully could trigger a raw spot. Or, perhaps it’s a certain look or body language that is reminiscent of arguments that you and your partner have had in the past.

When raw spots are so subtle, it can be hard to identify them. A key mechanism for identifying them can be thinking about the moments when an argument seems to “go off the rails.” Dr. Sue Johnson says that this will look like a “radical shift in emotional tone” – there’s even a chance that you’re not in an argument at the time. Raw spots can be triggered by a joke or seemingly innocuous comment.

Once you identify what’s exactly triggering these emotions, the next step is to try to identify why the facial expression, turn of phrase, or whatever it is causes such negative reactions – and then share the why with your partner. This can be very difficult, as raw spots generally stem from some level of trauma or intense negative experience, and you and your partner may already be experiencing some trust problems. However, opening up and discussing the triggers is necessary – if your partner doesn’t understand why something is upsetting you, they won’t be able to avoid it effectively.

All of this may feel a bit like common-sense, but it’s definitely worth doing an audit of the last few arguments with your partner. Did one of you suddenly escalate the argument or completely shut down for seemingly no reason? That’s a raw spot, right there. Even if it’s not causing you any obvious problems, it’s worth identifying the issue. If you want more examples of what raw spots look like, definitely grab a copy of Hold Me Tight!

Next week, we’ll be digging into the third conversation Dr. Sue Johnson discusses: Revisiting a Rocky Moment.

5 Utah Events to Mark on Your Calendar (June 2018)

June is full of fun in Utah! There’s something for everyone, whether you want to experience a little bit of everything at the Springville Art City Days or you’d prefer to just have an awesome, epicurean experience at Savor the Summit in Park City! Check out our list of our top 5 events happening in Utah this June!

Springville Art City Days – Springville, Utah
June 2nd-9th
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This is an awesome way to kick off summer – a festival filled with a ton of activities, including contests, parades, carnivals, fireworks and more. Definitely make sure to check out the website to see everything going on.

Bryce Canyon Annual Astronomy Festival – Bryce, Utah
June 13th-16th
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Details of the 2018 schedule haven’t been released quite yet, but one thing’s for sure – there will be plenty of looking at and talking about the stars. That always makes for a romantic occasion!

Wasatch Mountain Music Festival – Midway, Utah
June 15th & 16th
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This is a festival celebrating Bluegrass, traditional and Americana music. Enjoy the lovely summer weather while listening to some excellent music!

Savor the Summit – Park City, Utah
June 16th
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This event bills itself as “Park City’s Largest Outdoor Dinner Party” – would wouldn’t want to experience that?! Here’s how it works: on June 16th, a ton of local restaurants will be servicing their specialties to diners – all outside! You don’t need a ticket, you just need to make a reservation with one of the participating restaurants. Check out the website for more information!

Frontier Folk Festival – Cedar City, Utah
June 22nd-23rd
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Experience traditional crafts and activities, as well as live music, a variety of vendors and more. Definitely a festival art and music lovers won’t want to miss!

Nothing on this list striking your fancy? We’re here to help! Tell us what you like, and we’ll find you the perfect date night activity!

5 Romantic Arizona Events (June 2018)

It’s not too early to start planning your June date nights! Arizona has a ton of wonderful events going on, whether you’d prefer to experience some Art and Music, or you’d love to watch the stars. There’s even a festival dedicated to lavender! Check out our picks below.

Not in Arizona? We have date ideas for lots of states! Just click here to find yours!

10th Annual Rock the Canyon Art and Music Festival – Shonto, Arizona
May 31st – June 2nd
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Experience music, food, and arts, all within the beautiful Shonto canyon in Arizona. You won’t want to miss this unique venue!

9th Annual Prescott Film Festival – Prescott, Arizona
June 8th-16th
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If you love movies, you won’t want to miss out on this film festival! There’s a great variety of film themes to choose from, depending on your interests. Plus, there are some extras activities available, like a gourmet dinner and a movie package.

Sunset Crater Volcano Solar & Star Party – Flagstaff, Arizona
June 9th
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Spend the day watching the skies – whether you’d prefer to do a solar viewing in the afternoon, attend an astronomy presentation or go on a constellation tour, there’s nothing more romantic!

28th Annual Grand Canyon Star Party – Grand Canyon Rim, Arizona
June 9th-16th
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A whole week of stargazing opportunities – if you’re going to be near the Grand Cnyon, you won’t want to miss this! There will be a nightly educational slide show, constellation tours and more!

White Mountains Balloon Festival – Lakeside, Arizona
June 16th
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Hot air balloons are such a romantic sight and experience! Whether you prefer to stay on the ground and watch them in the sky, or take a tethered hot air balloon ride, this festival has something for you!

15th Annual Lavender Festival – Concho, Arizona
June 21st-24th & June 28th-July 1st
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Experience lavender growing demonstrations, wine tastings and lavender-based foods at this unique festival!

5 Must-See Museums in Georgia

Georgia is a state with a rich history – and they’re making sure to celebrate it with museums. There’s a museum here for everyone, whether you and your partner want to learn more about prohibition, american art, or even Coca-Cola!

Not in Georgia? Take a look at this page to find date ideas we’ve highlighted in your area!

American Prohibition Museum – Savannah, Georgia
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It can be incredibly fascinating to visit museums that focus on one period of time. They tend to be able to deep dive on topics that broader museums wouldn’t be able to. The American Prohibition Museum is no exception – learn all about the temperance movement and its consequences.

Center for Puppetry Arts – Atlanta, Georgia
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Just as it can be fascinating to visit museums focusing on one period of time, it can also be fascinating to visit museums focusing on one style of art. In this case, it’s puppetry. Don’t miss the Jim Henson collection, featuring iconic puppets like Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Columbus Museum – Columbus, Georgia
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Not just an art museum, and not just a history museum, the Columbus museum combines both into one, fantastic facility. Whether you want to experience some American art or explore the history of the region, this museum is the one stop shop for you!

Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum – St. Marys, Georgia
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This is a mix between a museum and a national park. First, take a look around their visitor’s center to learn about the history of the area. Then, take a ferry to the island itself to experience the magic of nature. You may even see some wild horses!

World of Coca-Cola – Atlanta, Georgia
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A museum dedicated to Coca-Cola? Why not? Take some time to learn about the history of the beverage company, and then sample over 100 flavors, including ones that are limited edition or only available in select regions (including internationally).

 

Book Club: Hold Me Tight, First Conversation

Over the next few weeks, we will be reading the book Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Dr. Sue Johnson, the developer of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. Want to go back to the beginning of the series? Just click here.

Today, we’re going to dive into the first conversation Dr. Sue Johnson discusses in Hold Me Tight. She called this section Recognizing the Demon Dialogues. Demon Dialogues is her term for a few common patterns of unhealthy relationships. She identifies three: Find the Bad Guy, the Protest Polka and Freeze and Flee.

Before going into the details of each dialogue, Dr. Johnson takes the time to discuss why it’s important to have an understanding of what these dialogues look like – it’s because once you can step back and see the pattern you and your partner are falling into, it’s much easier to break out of it and reorient your behavior to be more productive. “Focusing on the game, rather than the ball,” as she puts it.

Do any of these dialogues sound like something you’ve experienced in your relationship?

Find the Bad Guy

Find the Bad Guy could also be thought of as “playing the blame game” – basically, once a conflict arises, both partners start trying to figure out whose fault it is instead of working towards solutions. Once partners start behaving this way regularly, they begin to immediately expect to be blamed for something going wrong, sometimes causing them to launch a sort of pre-emptive strike. Of course, as this argument is going on, the problem remains unsolved, and trust continues to break down between the partners.

The Protest Polka

This section opens with a sobering fact – studies indicate that many of the couples who fall into this pattern early in marriage do not make it to their fifth anniversary. The thing that makes this issue more insidious is that it can be much harder to spot than Find the Bad Guy.

The Protest Polka is generally comprised of one partner reaching out towards the other partner, attempting to get some sort of reaction, generally looking for some sort of reassurance, and the other partner “stepping back” or “shutting down.” This can cause the first partner to reach out in more aggressive or persistent fashions, which, of course, only causes the second partner to shut down more, often because they’re worried responding will result in a fight or that they’ll respond incorrectly.

This can be a difficult pattern to spot when you’re trapped inside it, because no matter which role you play, you’re likely to think that your behavior is the fault of the other person. You will both need to take a step back and realize that you’re on the same team before this behavior can be corrected.

Freeze and Flee

This is generally the last step once couples start making the Demon Dialogues a regular occurrence in their relationships. In the previous dialogue, we saw how one partner was aggressively pursuing reactions from the other. Freeze and Flee is what happens when that person finally gives up.

Often, couples who have gotten to this stage are able to cooperate around pragmatic issues and be polite to one another – but the love aspect of their relationship is close to over. If the previous dialogue is a cyclic dance, this is no dance at all.

What Now?

Each demon dialogue has some exercises for couples to do as a team to help them figure out if they may be trapped in one of these unhealthy patterns. If the couple is indeed trapped in one of these patterns, the book offers some tips on how to break free. We highly recommend picking up a copy of the book if any of the above sounds uncomfortably familiar.

 

Next week, we’ll be digging into the second conversation Dr. Sue Johnson discusses: Finding the Raw Spots.