How Couples Hurt Each Other

how couples hurt each otherIf you are in a long-term, committed relationship, you know that conflict and emotional pain are unavoidable. All couples fight. Healthy couples are able to repair painful rifts when they occur in ways that cultivate intimacy, vulnerability, and emotional safety, and next week I will write about how couples might do this.  Today, however, we must consider how couples hurt each other now that we know what causes emotional pain.

Why We Hurt

Conflict is inevitable in all of our relationships, and romantic relationships are no exception. Partners in intimate, long-term relationships will surely step on each other’s toes, thereby causing each other emotional pain. Couples need to able to repair painful rifts when they happen in ways that cultivate intimacy, vulnerability, and emotional safety. How might couples do this?

An Open Invitation

A few weeks ago, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the director’s latest cinematic venture into Middle Earth, was released into theaters nationwide. The film begins the story of the adventures and travels of Bilbo Baggins. Readers of JRR Tolkien’s book The Hobbit will remember that Bilbo is a hobbit who loved the comforts of home; indeed, he was, in Tolkien’s words, one who never “had any adventures or did anything unexpected.”

Our Feelings and Freud

I was recently joking around with one of my friends who knows that I’m a therapist intern. As we were exchanging wisecracks about I’ve-forgotten-what, he smiled and offered in jest a self-deprecating barb about one of his unique character traits: “Does that go back to my childhood?” In the moment, of course, I simply played along, but his comment lingered in my mind long after our verbal horseplay was over.