You and your partner may be unconvinced that you can resolve the conflicts within your relationship by trying couples therapy. To some couples, conflict resolution seems impossible, but with counseling, you can work past surface level conflicts, and find the deeper meaning behind the miscommunication and distress in your relationship.
No Communication in the Relationship
One of the most prominent issues in a relationship is poor communication. There are different types of miscommunication, and it is often a result of attachment needs being unmet.
Poor communication is more than just arguing with your partner. It can include the following:
- Avoiding Conversation
- Surface Conversations (small talk)
- Negative Interactions (bickering or blaming each other)
A couples therapist will analyze the way you communicate with your partner and identify the common communication patterns within your relationship.
After a communication pattern is identified, the therapist will work with you on reconstructing the way you communicate with your partner, which is done by understanding each of your attachment needs.
Attachment needs are your needs for emotional security, and your need to feel loved. Essentially, when you feel that you are undervalued by your partner, or that your partner doesn’t care about your needs, you start to experience distress (which is the root cause of conflict in the relationship).
If you feel misunderstood, unheard, unsupported, or not receiving the comfort and attention that you need from your partner, you experience emotional insecurity, which will affect how you connect with your partner.
Unmet Attachment Needs Affect Your Connection
Since attachment needs directly affect the way you communicate and connect with your partner, the therapist’s goal will be to determine the types of connections you experience with your partner. The type of negative connections you encounter with each other could be affecting the level of conflict within your relationship.
There are several types of adverse connections (just like there are different types of communication patterns) that can negatively affect your relationship. One type of connection that you may be experiencing is a pattern of attacking or antagonizing each other.
You may be feeling like you are not receiving the support you need from your partner, and therefore blame them for the conflicts that arise in your relationship. With this type of connection, there is a vicious cycle of blaming each other, or attacking each other for your weaknesses within the relationship, causing distress and frustration between the two of you.
Another type of negative connection that you may be experiencing is attempting to advocate for your own needs. For example, you may feel unsupported by your partner, which leads to a perspective that you need to care for yourself independently. This type of connection could lead to you avoiding your partner, pulling away from them emotionally, supporting yourself, or intentionally pushing your partner away. This type of reaction to unmet attachment needs forces you to feel like you are the only one who understands your needs, causing a strong disconnect between the two of you.
Escalation is another common negative connection experienced by couples. When your emotional needs are not met, you may tend to get angry or upset with your partner. Escalation occurs when you express your anger through yelling, arguing, fighting, or crying. It is an intense emotional response that could leave you feeling hopeless or overwhelmed, and it can cause a lot of distress within your relationship.
Everyone has different attachment needs, and your connection with your partner is based on those needs. By going to couples counseling, your therapist can determine the type of connection you have with your partner and help you to heal your connection by teaching you how to communicate better.
Your couples therapist will be able to identify your attachment needs and make you aware of them. At that point, you will learn to support each other through empathy (understanding how the other person is feeling), rather that aggressing, avoiding, or antagonizing each other.
Empathizing allows you to reach a level of understanding that you may have lacked in the relationship, which can significantly improve the way you connect with your partner.
As difficult as it may seem, it is possible to resolve conflict within your relationship.
The arguments and negative interactions you experience with your partner are often a result of emotional needs not being met. With couples counseling, you can learn about your partner’s emotional needs (as well as your own) in order to resolve tension and conflict within your relationship. It is critical to understand attachment needs because they are the basis of quality communication.
Watch The Video
Benson, K. (2017, September 29). Breaking the Pursue-Withdraw Pattern: An Interview with Scott R. Woolley, Ph.D. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/breaking-pursue-withdraw-pattern-interview-scott-r-woolley-ph-d/
Feuerman, M. (2018, February 15). Managing vs. Resolving Conflict in Relationships: The Blueprints for Success. Retrieved from https://www.gottman.com/blog/managing-vs-resolving-conflict-relationships-blueprints-success/
Ni, P. (2012, December 5). How Successful Couples Resolve Conflicts. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/201212/how-successful-couples-resolve-conflicts
Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.