Struggling with Emotion in Emotionally Focused Therapy

Intimate bonds may be about many different things – shared goals and interests, a “contract” is honored by both partners, “fair fighting” rules and many other elements discussed over the years by a wide array of experts and observers.  However, one thing that sets a committed intimate relationship apart from almost every other relationship is its ability to touch our deepest emotions.  Many is the time I have heard a partner in the depth of distressbrake – experiencing fear, anger or shattering confusion – say to their partner, “I don’t get this way with anyone else!”  That is no doubt true.  Yet, the statement is not so much a reflection of what is wrong with the relationship as it is of what is important about the relationship.  To be human is to be vulnerable.  No mammal is vulnerable as an infant for a longer time than humans beings.  Also, because of our unique and massive brains – particularly the prefrontal cortex (right behind our forehead), we have a fundamental need for emotional attunement from our primary caregivers.  Just look at this video about the “Still Face Experiment” to get an idea of the power of this need.  We can amass all of the money and power available, and maybe by doing this, we never have to acknowledge and visit this vulnerable space inside of us – a vulnerability that comes with our humanity.