Written by Anna Cordova, MA, LPC
Somatic Psychotherapist at NC Center for Resiliency, PLLC
Do you want to learn how to listen to your partner better? Engage in less conflict? Love your partner better, and feel more loved in return? As it turns out, this ideal can and does exist, even outside of romantic comedies or sappy notions of love as infatuation.
According to the research of Stan Tatkin, PSY-D, author of Wired for Love and developer of a Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT), building a secure and mutually beneficial romantic relationship boils down to an understanding of neuroscience, attachment theory and human arousal. This blog post is the first in a series of three that will help you understand how each of these components can help you shift your relationship paradigm and learn to create a secure and lasting bond with your partner, in which both your own needs— and the needs of your partner— are met, and you together set the stage for lasting love.
Each of us, whether we like it or not, are “wired for love.” We have a biological drive to “pair bond”— which in prehistoric times, was for the purpose of procreation and survival. Later, couples began to form arranged marriages, primarily to bolster their economic and social status. In the eighteenth century, couples were more likely to choose each other based on an idea of romantic love- and the focus began to be more on individual needs rather than survival. More recently, the idea that the self is autonomous has come into question. Humans are intrinsically relational and interdependent, (Tatkin, Wired for Love, p. XIII) therefore, marriage should be seen as a “conscious partnership” in which the relationship is less about individuals having their needs met, and more about making the relationship itself primary.
When couples make an agreement to make their relationship primary, they are making an agreement to put the relationship before anything and everything else. Tatkin refers to this
concept as the “couple bubble.” Creating this couple bubble allows partners to feel safe and secure, so even when life gets challenging, both partners have a secure foundation in each other. This has a calming effect on our brains, so we are better able to regulate our moods and emotion. The couple bubble should not be confused with co-dependency, in which the relationship is driven by insecurity and fear. Within the couple bubble, mutuality, encouragement and support trump autonomy, guilt or shame.
In his book Wired for Love, Stan Tatkin has defined the couple bubble as being based on a series of agreements, such as:
“I will never leave you or frighten you.”
“I will relieve your distress, even when I’m the one causing it.”
“You will be the first to hear about anything.”
These agreements are consciously held – like a pact. Above all, you are saying to each other: “We come first.”
It is important to know that what makes you feel safe and secure may not be the same for your parter. Part of creating the couple bubble will include helping your partner to discover this for him or herself. Look for more on how to understand this in yourself and your partner in upcoming blog posts. Here at the NC Center for Resiliency, we are focused on helping both couples and individuals improve their understanding of their own neurochemistry, attachment style, and physiological patterns and responses to improve and enhance their relationships, their sense of self, and even face life’s challenges with greater ease.
Anna Cordova is a body-centered and expressive arts therapist, as well as a registered yoga teacher. Anna has experience working in both private and community based settings, working with children, adolescents, teens, families and couples. Anna has extensive training in the field of trauma work, somatic experiencing, cognitive behavioral therapy, DBT, creative expression and mindfulness. She specializes in mood disorders, relational issues, attachment, eating disorders, trauma and stress related conditions. Anna is committed to the deep work of healing through the body and would be honored to assist you on your self growth journey.
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