I am posting this blog entry again on this Valentine’s Day
Do you feel secure in your relationship? Do you thrust that your partner is there for you emotionally when you need them? In a healthy relationship, partners develop a secure attachment to one another whereby each person becomes a safe haven and a solid base for the other. Having this secure connection in place allows each partner to go out into the world with more confidence and self-assurance. If you desire to deepen your connection with your partner, you can begin right now by learning the language of love.
The language of love is the language of emotion. And the language of emotion is the language of relationship. The language of love is based on the words you use to describe and comprehend your emotional world. By learning the basics of emotional language, you can start to create a healthier and stronger foundation for your relationship.
The language of emotion contains two types of emotions – Primary Emotions and Secondary Emotions. Whenever a conflict or disconnect happens in your relationship, either a Primary or Secondary Emotion is at the core.
Primary Emotions represent those immediate, often unconscious, emotional responses that are felt in reaction to a situation. If you’ve ever experience that “fight-or-flight” feeling in response to a disagreement with your partner you’ve engaged a Primary Emotion.
Examples of Primary Emotions:
- Rejected, pushed away
- Numb, frozen
Secondary Emotions represent our emotional attempt to manage the arousal we’re experiencing because of a fight-or-flight Primary Emotion. For example, if your partner has been prioritizing work over you, and you are feeling rejected, you might display an emotion such as annoyance or anger. Primary emotions feel uncomfortable so we will often push them aside, “puff up” and express Secondary Emotions to communicate to our partner that we are not happy. Secondary Emotions are reactive responses that obscure our original feelings and block connections. These responses are often based on fear and fuel the behavior that we exhibit in response to a perceived (or real) threat from our partner.
Examples of Secondary Emotions:
When something unpleasant happens in our relationship, we undergo an emotional process that we are not consciously aware of. Have you ever responded impulsively to something your partner said or did without thinking about whether your response was loving, kind or beneficial? Our brain registers what happens when our partner does or says something which then triggers our Primary Emotion. We push that aside and find a Secondary Emotion to express and then act based on that emotion. Our partner responds in the same way to what we did and before we know it, we are caught in a feedback loop or cycle. The cycle can become negative if we are not able to identify what is happening and stop the process to discuss the issue with our partner. It can become an infinity loop repeating itself again and again creating distance and disconnection in our relationship.
When we feel threatened in our relationship, the four phases we unconsciously and instantly engage in our emotional process are:
- Appraisal – we make a rapid assessment concerning the potential danger or threat
- Arousal – we experience a physiological activation and prepare to respond
- Reappraisal – using greater cognition, we reevaluate our initial assessment
- Action tendency – we behave, often by rote, in response to the threatening stimuli
By using the language of love, the devastating effects of negative interactions can be sidestepped or avoided altogether. With a little guidance, you and your spouse can learn how to dissolve the triggers, and discover the true yearnings, that hide behind each upset. The language of love will help you to speak to one another and understand each other more deeply. This dialogue will empower the two of you to create the kind of safe and secure bond that represents the foundation of a strong and healthy marriage.