Sound familiar? How often do you tell your partner the same thing over and over again … hoping for a different outcome each time? This common relationship pattern is called “the cycle.”
Unfortunately, all the cycle does is continuously reinforce poor communication. You both end up feeling disconnected and alone. Through counseling and therapy, we can help the two of you fight against this cycle: instead of against each other.
We help you understand where the breakdown is in your communication patterns and how to communicate in a productive, loving way that really says “Hey, I love you. You are enough. You are loveable.” Couples often feel relief within the first six weeks of counseling and can’t believe how quickly things start to turn around.
Understanding your cycle is the first step in healing.
Often couples come in thinking that their partner is the problem. When we start looking at real life examples of conflict that a couple brings to session we can shift the focus from your partner being the problem to the cycle being the problem.
You want your partner to understand you and to get what you’re upset about. Yet, when you share how you feel, your partner rolls his eyes, walks away, or gives some counter criticism saying, “yeah, but you do it to me too.”
Now, your partner feels a million miles away from you … when all you really want is for them to help you feel better and worthy of loving.
To determine if you and your partner are in the cycle, ask yourself how often you experience these common protective behaviors:
The cycle describes the different steps in a communication dance. Each partner has a role to play and contributes to the cycle. Here is an example of a possible cycle:
Cycles occur when your partner is longing to be loved by you.When we aren’t sure that our partner loves us, hears us, will be there for us, and/or will handle our emotions with care we can start to “act crazy” about what may seem like the smallest little things. When the cycle is activated it means that your partner is longing to feel your closeness. Yet in that moment that is the last thing they seem to be communicating.
One of the best ways to increase connection with your partner is to tell them one thing each day that you appreciate about them. If you find this challenging, stick to the basics:
Put your seatbelt on when you express your gratitude.If this is a new thing you are doing then your partner may be taken off guard, suspicious, and bristle up if not shoot you outright with an arrow. This is to be expected. Be prepared, have your seat belt on, and try to interpret any pushback you get as them protecting themselves and that underneath they really do care how you feel about them. Smile back and say it’s true and you just wanted them to know. You just took a huge risky step towards improving things. Be the relationship hero in that moment.
Why did you choose your partner? Right now, you have a gut wrenching feeling about your future together. When you are stuck in a cycle of cycles, you feel unseen, unloveable, unwanted, and not good enough. But, that wasn’t always the case – and it doesn’t have to be like that forever.
What am I, chopped liver?
What if your partner said, “Ah thanks honey, that means a lot to me to hear” and then gives you a big hug? Maybe they even say, “I know I don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate everything you do.” How would THAT make you feel?
The first step in stopping the cycle comes with learning all of your and your partner’s moves in the cycle. We really slow things down in session and look for where the cycle started, and what were the first unconscious steps you both took that lead you down the path of disconnection.
The cycle swallows the two of you up and dumps you into shark infested waters.
In session, your therapist will help you begin to know when you are in the cycle. The next step is for either you or your partner to be able to recognize that you (or were) in a cycle and to name the cycle. “Hey, I think we were in the cycle last night when we went to bed?” When one or both of you recognize in real time you are in the cycle then you work to not make the next move you usually would in the cycle.