Portland Therapy Blog

Portland Therapy Blog

Local experts share the latest information and resources on all things mental health.

Critical Couple Choice: Turning Toward or Away

Posted: December 21, 2018 by Tonya Lippert, PhD, LCSW

When a couple enters into troubled territory, its members will turn to each other for solace and connection, right? Even when the trouble is each feels hurt and misunderstood by the other. Right? Right. For some couples. The secure functioning ones, who understand that their relationship depends on it.

Many couples, alas, do the opposite. They turn away. Each feels too hurt, too misunderstood, too blamed, too...afraid. Afraid of more hurt, misunderstanding, blame. Each caught up with thoughts of how the other one should know. Should know what I'm feeling, what I want. My hurt, mind.

So the members turn to others and other interests to meet his/her own needs. One goes out with friends. The other delves into a creative venture. One joins a club. The other travels solo. Again and again looking outside the relationship for more and more. Little by little, turning away, and forgetting how to turn toward, each other. Until...it's over.

If this is your relationship and you want to turn it around before you and your lover/partner/spouse kill it, try turning toward. Start by doing this physically. Get face-to-face, eye-to-eye with your partner, close enough to see each other's pupils. Hold for a few minutes. Keep your faces soft and friendly.

This face-to-face, eye-to-eye practice may sound simple but can be really hard for couples to do. So approach it with playfulness. No judgments, no self-judgment, no judgment of your partner. Then rinse, wash, repeat, as Stan Tatkin, the developer of PACT, likes to say.

May this be a start to turning toward and getting to know this person you once loved fiercely and may find yourself loving fiercely again.

Tags: relationship and family

Tonya Lippert, PhD, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

I offer a wealth of education and experience across various domains and am down-to-earth and non-judgmental. I believe we are all doing our best, even when we need to do better. I can help with this, and I genuinely care. It's why I do what I do.

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accepting clients
ADHD, Relationship / Marriage Issues, Parenting, Abuse, Polyamorous and Open Relationships