Wide World o ZuTroy

A Letter to my Daughters (not written by me but still awesome)

Posted to Facebook by a friend of mine.  Originally written by an unnamed friend of hers.

“One of the most important qualities that keep a marriage healthy is emotional availability from both partners. Find someone who is available to you emotionally. Find someone who likes to do what you do, but also who you can talk to anytime. Find someone you feel you can be “safe” with if you are vulnerable. You should feel secure in being fearful, scared, excited, worried…etc with them. You should never feel ‘stupid’ by thinking or feeling a certain way. You should be able to be comfortable and comforted with all your inner thoughts and emotions. This kind of partner will want to be with you not only to do fun things, but also will want to do what is important to you…even if they don’t feel it is important. They will WANT to be there for you. A life without this is very lonely. Even if your husband is smart, ambitious, a good provider, spiritual, etc….you will be pervasively lonely without this. I am NOT SAYING ANY ONE PERSON YOU ARE DATING FALLS INTO THIS CATEGORY. I like them all. You have dated some in the past I would worry about.

I took woman through a ‘healthy marriage’ class while they waited for their husbands to get further along in their addiction recovery program. We followed a book call “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson. In my opinion, it is the best marriage counseling/marriage help book out there. (not including church based material). It goes with a theory called EFT – Emotionally Focused Therapy. Anyway, the base of any healthy relationship is the acronym A.R.E. and the phrase “Are you there, are you with me?”

They are:

Accessibility: Can I reach you?

This means staying open to your partner even when you have doubts and feel insecure. It often means being willing to struggle to make sense of your emotions so these emotions are not so overwhelming. You can then step back from disconnection and can tune into your partner’s attachment cues.

Responsiveness: Can I rely on you to respond to me emotionally?

This means tuning into your partner and showing that his or her emotions, especially attachment needs and fears, have an impact on you. It means accepting and placing a priority on the emotional signals your partner conveys and sending clear signals of comfort and caring when your partner needs them. Sensitive responsiveness always touches us emotionally and calms us on a physical level.

Engagement: Do I know you will value me and stay close?

Te dictionary defines engaged as being absorbed, attracted, pulled, captivated, pledged, involved. Emotional engagement here means the very special kind of attention that we give only to a loved one. We gaze at them longer, touch them more. Partners often talk of this as being emotionally present.

It was so sad as we went through this program. Many of the women would sit and cry and cry because they couldn’t answer yes to any of these questions. They couldn’t remember a time when they could. After a while, I wondered if this was effective because although they could see what a healthy relationship may look like, they also grew angry again because they had no hope getting it. As a side note, one of my ideas for the future is to run partner programs or retreats where the couples would come together to learn these skills. The sad note however is that in my opinion, if someone hasn’t learned healthy attachment as a child (a healthy relationship with a caregiver), it is almost impossible in many cases to learn it as an adult. You can play catch up, but it is so much harder. It doesn’t seem or feel natural to them.

I love you. I am so proud of each of you. You are wise. You live close to the spirit. No one can tell you what to do, who to marry. You will have a quiet voice inside of you that will tell you when it is time, and who it should be. TRUST YOURSELF!