Hi I have another thread going below but wanted to keep this separate for some feedback. Entering Divorce proceedings
During MC last night it was discussed my inability to effectively show emotion has caused my W or STBXW to feel unloved and lonely and to detach from me, I do have a lot of feelings but maybe don't always show them in a way that she wanted. I was told that I am a fixer and I need to not try and fix everything all the time and sometimes just listen.
He recommend I read a book called Hold me Tight by Sue Johnson, has anyone read this book and did you get anything out of it? Also any other recommendations for books which have resonated well would be appreciated.
Conceptually, I think Sue Johnson has figured out something fundamental and very important.
I am struggling to read the book. Struggling, because I think it needs a re-write. Sue Johnson is an academic. Most of her books are for an academic audience. She has the same writing problem I have - she cannot rest until she's put ALL the details of a concept into the book - and that makes it hard to read. There are place in which I can tell that it probably flowed well - but she HAD to add several sentences to make sure this or that got covered well.
In an attempt to render it more readable, she presents the ideas in the form of "conversations" between married people...possibly because this was John Gottman's technique in his outstanding book "Seven Principles for making Marriage Work". However, while Gottman (or his ghost writer) were able to create believable people using English to express themselves, the characters in Sue Johnson's conversations are not differentiated from each other. In page after page of words in quotations, you can't tell which person is saying what. Sue interjects her own observations within the conversations, and sometimes it's hard to tell when the conversation stopped and Sue began making her observations.
Another challenge with the book is that it's unclear at times whether she's intending it for self-help for couples (this is the claimed objective) versus trying to show therapists how to use her EFT (Emotnon Focused Therapy) techniques.
My own estimate is that the essential information could probably be covered in 100 pages, not the 332 that it is.
So, the book - 2 stars
The concept - 5.5 stars out of 5. I think she's made a real breakthrough.
I listen to Youtube video interviews of her while I'm doing chores, and have absorbed what I think are the basics. I have also looked on the web to see if someone else has summarized the book.
Here's my take on it.
Part 1 - attachment style
Background for each individual: You have an attachment style, and it was created by how you were treated in the first weeks of life. Depending on how your primary caregiver (usually your mother) treated you when you were a newborn and most vulnerable, you have come to intrinsically view all people initially the same way.
If your mom responded to your cries instantly, and all the time, then you probably have a secure attachment style - you expect people close to you to be supportive, when you need it, and at the right level.
If your mom didn't respond every time, but sometimes ignored you as an infant, then you will likely have an insecure attachment style, in which you trust people but not all that much - you form relationships carefully and spend a lot of time looking for "red flags".
Worse, if, when you cried for attention, your mom showed up and did NOT support you - e.g. stuffed a bottle in your mouth and left - then your insecure attachment style will be one to never trust people - you may be viewed by others as shy, introverted, etc. You prefer solitude and when you are with people, you don't share your emotions, since your inner being expects people will abuse you with them.
Ultimately, knowing your style is useful but not required...but the background helps you understand how you and spouse may end up not working well together.
Part 2 - the Breakthrough
The breakthrough is that Sue Johnson seems to have cracked the love code- she has identified what we 'need' in a romantic relationship. It boils down to an acronym - A.R.E.
A = Available: Are you available to me? When I exhibit the need for emotional support, are you there? Even if you, yourself, are struggling with something, when I show my need, will you come to my aid?
R = Responsive - Will you respond when I show a need? John Gottman refers to events called "bids". Any time your spouse does something that you might respond to, you can consider it a bid for attention. Gottman says your responnse to these bids is crucial. If you "Turn Toward" your partner, you will show emotional support. Not fixing the problem, but acknowledging that you can see why your partner feels that way (even if you don't agree that it's a big deal). You can Turn Away - ignore the bid, stay focused on your computer, etc. Gottman has identified that you must Turn Toward 80% of the time...when a person is in distress, they are more prone to receiving things as negative, so your response to a bid must be positive (Turn Towards) the overwhelming majority of the time. John's wife (Julie, I think) also created a third category - Turn Against. This would be when your wife comes home irritated that someone at work insulted her and you say "It's not very smart to care what others think if you" - that's basically telling your wife that her feelings are invalid.
Note that in R, you need to be Responsive even when you are struggling - and even if what you're struggling with is your spouse! Not easy to do!
E = Engaged. Are you Engaged with me? Do my feelings matter, and are you regularly sharing your feelings?
Sue explains this stuff in maybe the first 100 pages of the book, then the Seven Conversations are supposed to show us a path to get from dysfunctional to functional in four steps. But that's where I get lost, the conversations are just too hard to follow for me to interpret the four steps.
Sue uses metaphors for many of her concepts - if you're not a social dancer, you'll miss many of them because she uses lots of dancing references.
You can find two and three page documents that repeat what I wrote (and probably better), and hopefully at some point, someone will summarize the seven conversations in a manner that I (and hopefully others) can absorb properly. I find useful stuff if I search for "Cliff Notes: Hold Me Tight" or "Summary of Hold Me Tight".
If you are the sort who can dive into any kind of writing, then you may move yourself through this book far better than I did.