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 fourth conversation in Hold Me Tight is labelled Engaging and Connecting. It’s different than the last three conversations in a couple of ways. The first three conversations were focused on teaching you how to halt or contain negative interaction patterns with your partner, as well as identify certain aspects around the negativity. This conversation is all about learning how to generate positive patterns with your partner. As Dr. Sue Johnson puts it: “In effect, you’ll be learning how to speak the language of attachment.”
This conversation is actually split into two parts. The first is “What am I most afraid of?” and the second is “What do I need most from you?”
The “What am I most afraid of?” conversation is an introspective conversation, where each partner thinks about negative conversations they’ve had in the past, and examines what fears may have been guiding their reaction. For instance, did they withdraw from a conversation because they were afraid talking about it further would lead to the end of the relationship?
The “What do I need most from you?” conversation uses the previous conversation to determine what the other partner can do to help the first partner through their fears. For instance, perhaps they need the other person to listen and not offer advice during an emotional time, or maybe they need the other person to be okay with taking breaks during arguments without worrying it’ll make things worse.
Both conversations can be difficult – after all, it’s hard to face our fears, and even harder to reveal them to others, even if they are your partner. Make sure to check out Hold Me Tight for some more details on how to make the conversations a bit easier.
Dr. Sue Johnson closes the chapter in an interesting way – discussing a bit about The Neuroscience of Harmony – I won’t try to paraphrase it all here, but it’s definitely worth taking a look at – it’s fascinating!
Next week, we’ll be digging into the fifth conversation Dr. Sue Johnson discusses: Hold Me Tight – Forgiving Injuries.