Is it possible to establish and maintain a loving relationship that brings heaven to earth?

Love has always been a mesmerizing topic for poets, songwriters, novelists and philosophers. A 19th-century Jewish poet describes emotional connection and a physical proximity to a loved one as a safe haven: “Besides him have I fear or dread of none.”

Love is described as a source of joy and happiness and a source of misery and pain.

Why is it so important for people to love and feel loved?

How does the quality of intimate relationship affect our well-being?

Is it possible to establish and maintain a loving relationship that brings heaven on earth?

For centuries love, mysterious and puzzling in its nature had been the exclusive domain of poets and songwriters. Not until a few decades ago adult love has been demystified by psychologists and scientists.

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), described by Johnson as an empirically validated theory of adult love relationships, made love less mystifying. Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, EFT conceptualizes love as an attachment process.

The attachment perspective on adult love suggests that secure bonds are built on interactions in which partners, who are perceived as attachment figures, are accessible and responsive to each other’s attachment needs.

The availability of an attachment figure, especially in times of stress and hardships, provides partners with the safe haven for expressing their deepest emotions, providing and receiving comfort from each other. By helping partners communicate their attachment needs and respond in an empathic way to each other, EFT therapists assists couples in overwriting negative past experiences with attachment figures with new positive ones, thus, creating emotionally corrective experiences. As a result, couples are able to heal their attachment wounds and have more satisfying relationships.

For centuries love, mysterious and puzzling in its nature had been the exclusive domain of poets and songwriters. Not until a few decades ago adult love has been demystified by psychologists and scientists.

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT), described by Johnson as an empirically validated theory of adult love relationships, made love less mystifying. Based on Bowlby’s attachment theory, EFT conceptualizes love as an attachment process.

The attachment perspective on adult love suggests that secure bonds are built on interactions in which partners, who are perceived as attachment figures, are accessible and responsive to each other’s attachment needs.

The availability of an attachment figure, especially in times of stress and hardships, provides partners with the safe haven for expressing their deepest emotions, providing and receiving comfort from each other. By helping partners communicate their attachment needs and respond in an empathic way to each other, EFT therapists assists couples in overwriting negative past experiences with attachment figures with new positive ones, thus, creating emotionally corrective experiences. As a result, couples are able to heal their attachment wounds and have more satisfying relationships.

Proven in empirical studies to be effective with distressed couples, EFT has been recently applied to the treatment of trauma survivors. According to Foa, although individual therapies, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) effectively address post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology that traumatized adults often develop, they do not necessarily address the impact of trauma on intimate relationships.

Adults with a history of trauma exhibit interpersonal difficulties that contribute to marital and family distress and suggested the use of marital and family therapy in conjunction with individual therapy in the treatment of adults with PTSD.

Results from Whisman’s study suggest that traumatic events that happened during childhood are correlated with marital disruption in adulthood. Trauma undermines an individual’s functioning and the ability to relate to others by destroying trust and sense of safety.

For a trauma survivor, the need for the secure attachment to relieve anxiety when feeling threatened or when experiencing a flashback is hindered by her emotional numbness, detachment, negative feelings of anger and shame, fears of being vulnerable, difficulty with affect regulation and emotional expressiveness, as well as by the avoidance of conversations that are associated with past traumatic experiences.

Per Johnson, confiding, and proximity seeking, actions that are a potential source of safety and comfort for distressed couples without a history of trauma, become a cause of danger in the partnerships of trauma survivors. A survivor’s inability to trust others, fear of rejection and feelings of unworthiness and unlovability compounded with the partner’s unresponsiveness may lead to revictimization.

The quality of an intimate relationship may contribute either to the exacerbation of PTSD symptoms or to the survivor’s recovery (Johnson & Williams-Keeler). A relationship with a partner can become an emotionally corrective experience for a survivor by providing a nurturing environment for effectively coping with the effects of a trauma, healing emotional wounds and restoring intimacy. These findings underscore the need for Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy in the treatment of traumatized couples.

2017-07-10T18:55:26+00:00 May 31st, 2017|