Think about your last couple of arguments with your partner. Do you notice a pattern? It can be easy to get lost in the content of the arguments such as parenting differences, financial woes, and uncompromised sex, but underlying each interaction is an unhelpful process that leads to more and more disconnection and distrust called the negative cycle.
What is the negative cycle?
Therapists who use emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) will often refer to a couple’s “negative interaction cycle.” The negative cycle can best be described as that frustrating, alarming, and escalating pattern that you and your partner know very well. It is maintained by decreased vulnerability and secondary emotions (i.e. anger, frustration). These patterns exist because deep emotional wounds are present that threaten the dependability, availability, and security of the relationship, reducing the overall feelings of safety. The most common is the pursuer-withdrawer cycle where each individual either pursues or withdraws increasing the behaviors of the other in escalating fashion. The goal of EFT couples therapy is to help identify this pattern in your arguments and restructure the cycle.
What is the restructured cycle?
A restructured cycle is a new relationship pattern that promotes safety, vulnerability, and connection to repair distrust and past hurts. This process will be unique to each couple and different just as each relationship is unique.
That being said, conflicts and moments of disconnection will continue to happen in your relationship, but the goal of EFT therapy is to help you and your partner reconnect more quickly and give you the tools to maintain trust and connection when approaching tough subjects. A restructured interaction pattern takes time, trust, willingness, and vulnerability, but it is very possible!