Working with Relationships

Working with Attachment, Relationships, and Family Dynamics

Why are relationships so hard? Why are they so fraught with peril? How can the person we love so much make us feel so bad? From my perspective, it is because most of us comes from families that carry unresolved trauma. And,  it’s not the kind of trauma that is commonly thought of trauma; war, famine, natural disasters, etc. It’s much more invisible and hidden, subtle, and may even look quite normal. It’s referred to as relational trauma or attachment-based trauma.

Attachment-based trauma is emotional disconnection and disruptions between a baby and it’s primary caregiver, be it Mom, Dad, or another. It sets the stage for later relationship difficulties. These early relationship dynamics and dysfunctions are imprinted into our physiology and drives how we do relationships throughout our lives. What do you know of your early bonding with your primary caregivers? What was happening in the environment during those early years?

Relational trauma manifests in what are often “normal” parental styes of raising children, and are another strong influence on beliefs and behaviors in relationships. The best parents attune to the child’s needs, love their children for who they are, foster strengths, and repair parental mistakes. Many parents have their own unresolved issues. So when these optimum conditions do not met, the parent’s unresolved issues get passed on and/or the child learns unhealthy coping strategies that carry forth into adult relationships.  This damage will then reappear in intimate relationships be it with your child, parent, sibling,  intimate partner, or close friend. What was your family like? Did it look “normal” or “OK”, but didn’t quite feel “OK”?

Here is a quick summary of my view and how I work with relationship issues.

• All relationships dynamics are co-created. Each has a part in the creating the present issue(s).

• The primary goal is to move the relationship from blame and disconnection to personal responsibility and connection.

• Often times there is a “overt” and “covert”. One partner is distressed and having more reactivity with what is happening. The other may look great. This is an illusion. You are both creating the issue, and therefore it is important to be able to see your contribution.

• Intimate relationships issues can trigger our deepest fears, and boot up your survival pattern or coping mechanism use learn to use as a child.  When your buttons get pushed there is a strong pull into an younger emotional state and your adult regulated self goes off-line. If you think about it, how old do you feel when you get triggered by an intimate relationship?