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Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

Kintsugi is a Japanese art form based on repairing broken objects. The artist sees the damage in the object as the opportunity for something creative, new, and beautiful to emerge. The following poem encourages us to view the beauty of this process of repair.

What's between us
often seems flexible as the webbing
between forefinger and thumb.
Seems flexible, but it's not;
what's between us is made of clay,
like any cup on the shelf.
It shatters easily. Repair
becomes the task.
We glue the wounded edges
with tentative fingers.
Scar tissue is visible history
the cup more precious to us
because we saved it.
A potter repairing a broken cup
would sprinkle the resin
with powedered gold.
Sometimes the joints are so exquisite
they say the potter may have broken the cup
just so he could mend it.

Relationships are fragile and can shatter like cups on a shelf. We can break each other's hearts and shatter trust with our actions and our words. Breakage is a natural part of life so it is important to become skillful in making repairs along the way.

Why focus on emotions to repair our relationship?

Emotion comes from the Latin word, "to move." Positive emotions move us towards our partners, negative feelings move us away from each other. When we are in love we can trigger strong positive and negative emotions in each other. Positive emotions create and maintain a secure bond with our partner because the reassuring message is, "I've got your back" or "I'm here for you." Unfortunately, sometimes negative patterns that may start with simple miscommunications and misunderstandings take on a life of their own. We may find that negative emotions escalate into fights more quickly and more often. It is at this point that our relationship begins to feel unsafe rather than a secure, safe haven. We feel alone, unimportant, and believe we can't do anything right for each other anymore.

However, our angry, critical words or our sullen disengagement are often our desperate and misdirected strategies to connect with each other and to protect ourselves from more hurt. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy first helps us to begin to repair as we both step back and see our moves in this dance that create distance and disconnection between each other.

The next step back to repairing loving connection is to begin to understand our "dance" so that we can learn new steps with each other. Our new dance steps move us towards each other, and as we feel safer, we become more willing to take risks to show each other our deeper and softer feelings which regains love, security, and connection between us.