Online marriage counseling – 3 tips that will transform your triggers into intimacy
Today you will learn one of the secrets to the success in my online marriage counseling practice.
I have been doing online marriage counseling for a while now, and I found triggers to be one of the main reasons behind couples getting caught in a negative cycle.
Marriage counseling has to focus on many parts of a relationship, but if we start with solving the triggers, then everything else becomes much easier.
Today I will teach you how to save money on online marriage counseling and turn your triggers into intimacy.
Let's learn the first secret I teach couples in my online marriage counseling practice.
They are fear responses that kept us safe as children but often became harmful in our adult relationships, as we tend to respond excessively to anything that seems like a similar situation.
By understanding our triggers, we can stop being controlled by them, and this will help us break the negative cycle and build intimacy instead.
We need a map of our partner to navigate them just like you need google maps to find a destination.
If you don’t have a map, you will keep taking wrong turns until you get lost.
With a map, you will get home faster and easier, and when you do get lost, it will reroute you.
To create an emotional map, we need to know our own and our partner’s triggers.
As we grew up, we might have experienced abandonment by a parent or parents that went from loving and responsive to unresponsive and cold.
This could now cause us to feel insecure and anxious.
This will often lead to what we often wrongly described as “needy” behavior, as the person feels uncertain, their needs will be met or fear loss.
Children who grow up with unresponsive or abusive parents and don’t react to their needs learn they have to be self-sufficient and, therefore, often become avoidant.
These people often lack trust in others and avoid intimacy, as they never learned to have an intimate and trusting relationship with their parents.
They can often seem to fear intimacy and push people away.
We all have a history that formed these attachment patterns. Understanding each other’s history and attachment style allows us to understand and see it for what it is, rather than being dragged into the drama.
Our history has given us some wounds that activated our protective nervous system response (fight, flight, or freeze).
These are stored as emotional and bodily memories, meaning when we are triggered, we relive the past. Still, it will feel like it’s the present situation causing all these uncomfortable emotions and sensations.
Trying to discuss things logically with someone that’s triggered will only fuel the fire.
You have to realize when your partner is triggered, the adult has left the room, and you are dealing with their old hurt child.
If your partner is triggered, you are no longer having a rational conversation.
It’s now an emotional conversation.
Until you address the emotions, nothing will get through.
What are situations or events that trigger you?
When I was a child, I reached out for help from my parents at a critical time when I was in danger, and I was ignored.
Because of this, I can get triggered if my partner is dismissive, ignores, or rejects what I am saying.
This comes from my childhood experience of not feeling heard.
The attachment wound; meant I struggle to trust other people to be there for me when I need it.
Similarly, I learned I could only count on myself when in danger, so I developed a strong need to feel in control, and when I did not feel in control, I got triggered easily.
So, ask yourself;
What are the situations or events that trigger you?
Can you see a pattern in these triggers?
What is your typical response when triggered?
Do you attack or withdraw?
Do you want to be alone, or do you want to be together and sort things out together?
When I feel unheard, I would repeat myself until it’s recognized, and I get some response.
If I felt a loss of control, I would fight back until I felt in control again.
It’s how my inner child learned to feel safe and protected.
What is your typical response when triggered?
Knowing this is a great way to see when you are triggered and see you are stuck in a cycle.
What do you feel?
Anger, sadness? …..
I often feel anger when triggered, but I also feel sadness beneath the anger as I sense deeper.
What do you sense in your body?
I can sense my stomach becoming tense, and my muscles in my shoulders and jaw tensing up.
This is a clear sign to me that I am triggered.
Our bodily sensations are the first to react to a stress response, so knowing your body sensation will help you catch triggers early.
What do you need right now?
If I feel unheard, I need my partner to understand my experience.
If I feel a loss of control, I need them to listen and acknowledge what I want.
To find our triggers start looking for highly emotional responses such as anger, sadness, when we lash out, blame, or attack or when we withdraw.
These reactions and emotions indicate something has been triggered, and its often-old attachment fears of being abandoned, violated, or ignored.
Instead of lashing out, which will likely make your defensive or withdraw, you can ask for the support you need and be vulnerable.
That will allow for intimacy instead of disconnect, and you can get your needs met and start to heal.
There is no greater healing power than our close relationships.
When you feel calm again, try to fill this out to understand your triggers more.
The trigger was ….. on the surface I showed ……. But deep down, I felt ……. (anger, sadness, shame, fear)…. What I longed for was…………..
Let me give you an example here:
The trigger was my ex-wife breaking our agreement.
On the surface, I showed anger, but deep down, I felt scared that I am losing control, and I longed for her to express that she can understand the damaging impact her actions have on my life.
Let’s explore some more.
Can you remember what experience might have led to this trigger?
Here is another little exercise you can do to become more familiar with your triggers:
When I get triggered I (push you away/action word), I feel (angry/initial emotion felt), I get triggered when I sense/feel/perceive (attacked, you don’t care), on a deeper level, I feel (sad/hidden secondary emotion). I want to (be close to you), and I need (what you need).
Before having attachment conversations like the above, we need a space to release our anger, resentment, or other emotions that will escalate things and start the cycle.
Here are some ways to release when you are triggered and restore calm:
Until you have given it the outlet, your body will remain in a state of high alert and is more likely to continue to get triggered.
While you can’t hit someone, you can hit something or run somewhere.
So, let’s get physical.
I either dance or punch my boxing bag to release the adrenalin.
If you don’t have one, a pillow will do.
Use any physical activity that works best for you.
Our breathing affects our nervous system, and either increases or decreases the stress response.
Fast and shallow breathing increases your stress response.
Deep and slow breathing does the opposite and calms your body and mind down.
Count slowly to 4 as you breathe in, and four as you breathe out.
What we want to know is that our partner will be there for us when we need them.
You can let them know how much you care about them, and you can show them using their attachment language (more on this later)
When couples use logic to engage with a triggered partner, it’s doomed to fail and often make the trigger worse.
The “I am right, and you are wrong” argument will make both parties shut off quickly, as they feel attacked and threatened.
This way, everyone loses, hence the saying, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”
Instead, do the release, step into vulnerability, and feel yourself.
Then express your emotions and needs clearly to your partner.