How Brain Science Can Teach Couples Emotional Literacy

By Brent AtkinsonHere we go again, I thought.Loretta and Jack were back in my office, dispirited and fed up. "I don't think I love him anymore," Loretta began, and what caught my attention was not what she said but the way she said it: quietly, flatly, as though she was beyond caring.During our first round of couples therapy, one year earlier, 31-year-old Loretta hadn't said anything quietly. She'd been chronically pissed off at Jack and had let him know via frequent, name-calling outbursts. Jack, 33, prided himself on his levelheadedness…

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The Clear Communication Model

Emotions and Communication The pie graph to the side shows the components of communication from Albert Mehrabian's studies. When communicating with another person, we do not just communicate using words. We also use tone and body language. The studies showed that the actual words we use are less significant than the tone and body language (including facial expression) in order to get the full message from the speaker. Our emotions (emotional brain states) show in our body language and tone and we may end up communicating more through these than…

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Speaking Clearly using the Awareness Wheel

Psychologists have studied what effective communication looks like for married couples for decades. After uncovering what factors contribute to effective communication, some clever people have combined these ideas into a simple model that we share here. This model is known as the Awareness Wheel and Listening Cycle. Communication skills can improve all kinds of relationships. We hope you find this short tutorial useful and even purchase the book if you would like to learn more.Before we explain Awareness Wheel and Listening Cycle communication, here are some simple ground rules for…

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What Withdrawers Can Do Besides Walking Away

Knowing that their withdrawal triggers their partner, what can someone who feels attacked or criticized do – other than walking away? Wrestling with themselves and naming their feelings, gives them a moment to feel instead of shutting it down. Recognizing what happens in their body makes some room and space for the withdrawer distress. And becoming curious about their pursuing partners criticism and anger helps them reconnect emotionally. Listen to Podcast Here

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Two Ways Pursuers Can Calm Down & Love Their Withdrawing Partner

Pursuers have beautiful motives to push toward their partners – wanting more connection, more intimacy and more sex. But they often feel rejected and are told they are too much which escalates the cycle. Learn two things that help the pursuer calm down. 1) Remind yourself that you have good intentions to create change. 2) Use an image of someone who made you feel safe – a therapist, parent, grandparent or even of yourself comforting a younger version of yourself. See how taking a wider lens including both peoples vulnerabilities…

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Taking A Time Out

By Carlene Lehmann, LMFT The acronym HALTS is very useful to help us recognize when when we aren't at our best physically, mentally, and emotionally. HALTS stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired, and stressed. When we are feeling these ways we are more likely to react and get defensive. It is not the best time to try to talk about a challenging issue with our loved one. It is also important to notice if any of these feelings come up during an interaction. When we notice that we aren't resourced…

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Loving Firmness in Your Relationships for Couples and Parents

By Carlene Lehmann, LMFT I first heard of the term "Loving Firmness" from Terry Real, psychotherapist and creator of Relational Life Therapy. It is bringing kindness and firmness together. It helps us to be assertive without being aggressive. How can we develop loving firmness? It is where you cherish your partner or child, yourself, and your relationship in equal measure. You are able to speak up and have your voice heard without having to be harsh. Instead of criticism and contempt, you treat your partner or child with the same…

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