Take a couple such as Ann and David...
They came to a session and stated they were frustrated and stuck. Discussing their conflicts in a therapy session provided important information.
The angrier Ann became, the more she criticized David and then the more silent David became hearing this criticism. After a lot of gentle questions, David states that underneath his silence, he felt "defeated" and "sad."
Sadness tells us to slow down and grieve, so David had begun to grieve his marriage. And, of course, the more he closed down, the more Ann demanded to be let in. Her angry complaint cued his sense of silent defeat and his silence cued her angry demands. Round and round and round.
They were both stuck.
Talking about these emotions, perhaps for the first time, and seeing how patterns trap couples, helps each partner feel safer with each other. No one has to be the bad guy here. The pattern of communication is the enemy.
Couples then can begin to have new kinds of conversations and their narrow exchange of blame and silent distancing slowed down. Sharing softer emotions, couples begin to see each other differently.
The drama of painful emotions don't seem so overwhelming.
The negative patterns of interaction starts when one partner tries to reach for the other and cannot make safe emotional contact. Once couples are able to see their destruction patterns of behaviors and understand the cues of reaching for the other, they are able to show more of themselves, to risk sharing deeper emotions, then the conflict calms down and they feel a little closer.
Sue Johnson - Hold me Tight.