Join Date: Mar 2009
| | Marriage counseling, relationship understanding; anger & intimacy
Relationship dynamics, a brief primer; the origins of anger and intimacy
Marriage counseling, therapy for depression, or relationship / life coaching is an investment in yourself and/or your marriage. It seems that no one teaches us how to be an emotionally healthy person, or how to have a healthy marriage. Some of us seek out a coach, or a mentor, and when we do, we find that we have discovered something that we never knew existed. We find that being an emotionally healthy person or having a healthy marriage is not a mysterious or elusive thing that people only talk about. It's real, and within your grasp. The time and energy you spend on yourself and your marriage is never wasted! Invest in yourself and your marriage!
Relationships can be very rewarding, and rather vexing and confusing at times. Through our discussions you will learn many tools, and to develop and utilize these skills to achieve your goals in life, work and love. This article deals with one very central dynamic in relationships, with an emphasis on intimate relationships. That dynamic is the relationship between intimate feelings and angry feelings. It is an artifact of our very closeness that causes us to be able to simultaneously feel closer then anyone else we know, and to fight like no one else we know. This stunning contradiction properly managed with understanding, respect, and commitment, can and should be the source of endless joy and a blissful life as husband and wife.
There is a very close relationship between warm, close, loving feelings ( Intimacy ), which is our target, and cold, angry, distant feelings ( more often then we would like, the problem ). Those two feelings may seem to be, and are, in many ways polar opposites. However, they stem from almost, exactly, the same place.
Those polar opposite feelings have one thing in common, emotional vulnerability. To greatly varying degrees it permeates every interaction we have in all of our relationships. It is most prevalent and relevant to our intimate relationship, and therefore central to our discussion of relationship dynamics. That vulnerability is evident in both our loving intimate interactions and our angry hurtful moments, it is the very foundation of all our relationships. Without some level of vulnerability there is no relationship at all.
We all have vulnerabilities. We are all vulnerable because not a single one of us is perfect. It is our choice to share or make ourselves vulnerable to another person that brings bout a relationship. How those vulnerability are managed, is what determines how close a relationship will be. Because not a one of us is perfect, we all have good things about us, that we are proud of and enjoy sharing with others. These vulnerabilities are ones that we feel are safe to share with a wide range of people and we do just that when we meet someone new and we are putting that best foot forward. Additionally, we all have things about us that we are not so proud of, that we would rather not remember let alone share with anyone. These things, are our biggest vulnerabilities and therefore what makes us feel truly emotional vulnerable. We are typically very careful about whom we entrust this most sensitive information with. It is only those people whom we trust the most that we will share our biggest vulnerabilities with. We share these vulnerabilities, only with those people whom we wish to be closest to. We communicate them verbally and physically, in exchange for closeness, and eventually, trust and love.
In addition to emotional vulnerability, there are other kinds of vulnerability that are shared in relationships, there is intellectual vulnerability, where I share my thoughts, skills, ideas, and solutions. There is also physical vulnerability where I share of my physical self, we like that one.... Emotional vulnerability, however is the key “flavor” of vulnerability that we need to focus our attention on. This is because it is the foundational component of every relationship. Over the course of time, as we share more and more about ourselves, it is also one of the crucial things that progressively brings us closer, and closer together. Properly respected and managed, in time it bonds us together, as a healthy and happy couple. In our intimate relationships our closeness / intimacy evolves through the sharing of vulnerabilities.
Emotional vulnerability is only half of what draws us together. In addition to vulnerability in order to feel close, we must also feel comfortable, or safe in sharing those vulnerabilities. If we are not comfortable, or do not feel safe with another then we will not share our vulnerabilities. However, when we do feel safe we enjoy sharing this information. When we share vulnerabilities and we feel listened to, respected, and cared for, we begin to feel close. These warm close feelings feel so good that we are drawn to that person emotionally and in in time physically too. The more we share with each other and the safer we feel, the closer we become. As we continue to date one and other, there typically comes a time when we find that we can talk for hours and hours. We miss each other and long to be together again. When we are having these marathon conversations we begin to share things about ourselves that we are not so proud of, in short our vulnerabilities. As I share this privileged information about myself, and you listen and support me, and offer to assist me in dealing with these things, I feel respected, heard, cared for, and in time, loved. Through communication and physical touch, we cultivate intimate feelings & ultimately fall in love with one and other. Our eventual goal is to share all of ourselves with each other and in the end feel loved for all of who we are, flaws and all. So, warm, close, loving, intimate feelings stem from the ability to feel emotionally vulnerable and safe at the same time.
Intimacy evolves, as I described, and so does .... anger.
Anger begins at a point in time after some measure of meaningful intimacy has been cultivated. This is because before any meaningful anger will manifest between us there must be some measure of shared vulnerability. Similar to intimacy, anger stems from feeling emotionally vulnerable, but this time unsafe at the same time. It starts with miscommunication, and subsequent misunderstandings, then as patterns begin to develop, communication decreases, and resentments begin to accumulate. These resentments will reach a kind of critical mass and destructive anger emerges.
Anger is an individual, defensive, and at times destructive dynamic, that plays itself out by hurting the ones I love. My anger protects me from you by creating distance between us. The thinking is relatively simple, if I can create enough distance between the two of us, you won’t be able to hurt me and I will be safe again. Anger creates distance in one of two ways, either I push you away or I remove my self from the situation, either way I restore my own personal safety, typically at the expense of our shared or relationship’s intimacy.
Anger manifests itself as frustration when I am trying to control what I perceive to be an out of control situation. Or when a situation is much more chronic in nature, by verbally & emotionally hurting the ones I love, causing then to recoil from me. This is usually accomplished through the misuse of intimate, privileged knowledge I possess about you. Vulnerabilities that were shared between us to facilitate and maintain intimacy. Which in anger I now choose to misuse, to hurt you or to control you. The lasting damage anger causes comes from the erosion of trust between us. The damage stems from the fact that the vulnerabilities I shared were to create closeness, and in anger are now being used against me, to hurt me and control me. A relationship with chronic frustration, anger, and the requisite misuse of vulnerabilities, will eventually erode the very fabric of that intimate relationship, our ability to feel emotionally vulnerable and safe at the same time.
This article dealt with only one, but a very central dynamic in intimate relationships, the origins of anger and intimacy. That powerful understanding is just the beginning of a complete picture of intimate relationships. This properly managed with understanding, respect, and commitment, our relationship can and should be the source of endless joy and that happily ever after we all signed up for.......
Because we are all individuals, and our marriages are unique to us, no two are exactly the same. As a result we are all in need of differing levels of care and intervention. Based on my years of experience as a professional counselor, I have developed four different marriage counseling programs, tailored to meet the differing needs that my clients face. First I have the Marriage Counseling 8 week program, which is ideal for moderate levels of stress an conflict, couples struggling with communication and intermittent significant fights. Next I have developed the Marriage Counseling 10 week program which is ideal for couples who are experiencing considerable levels of stress and conflict, poor communication, frequent fighting and threats of divorce. For couples experiencing relentless conflict, and stress the Marriage Counseling 12 week counseling program is a very good choice to restore harmony to your marriage / relationship. The Marriage Counseling 14 week elite marriage counseling program is ideal for marriages experiencing critical levels of stress and conflict, one in which the both of you are very committed to working things out but the constant conflict is unbearable. The right program for you and your marriage, can restore the harmony, respect and love the both of you once shared.
Robert Whitman LPC, MA,CACIII
For further information and contact information please visit my website Marriage counseling Colorado