Triggers. We’ve all experienced them, and we all hate them. They can hit an otherwise high-functioning woman and turn her into a hot mess. Sound familiar? Me too.
But did you know that with proper guidance, your partner can not only learn how to help you through triggers, triggers can also provide an opportunity for him to rebuild your trust? How? If he can learn how to provide authentic empathy and support during your triggers by using attunement, AVR, and other empathy skills, he can literally become your ally in healing. And hope can grow that your relationship can heal, too.
Attunement is an important facet of empathy. It can be learned, but it is learned experientially. And if, thanks to a tough childhood, emotionally absent parents, or other dysfunction, he’s not used to being attuned to even his own emotions, it can take time and practice to learn how to attune to yours. But with effort, he can learn.
The word attune comes from attachment theory, which is the study of a primary caregiver’s response to her baby’s needs. John Bowlby was the very first person to study a mother’s ability or inability to attune to her infant, and the lasting impact her care, or lack of care, would have on her child. But in the years since Bowlby, we’ve learned the same kind of attachment bond is formed between committed life partners. That’s why betrayal hurts so much. We thought we were safe, and we could trust.
Knowing this and building on it provides a wonderful path your partner can take to help you heal. And to become the kind of partner you long for. If he can learn to attune to you, and to provide other empathy skills, not only can it help you heal, it opens the possibility of saving your relationship. It will take time and hard work, but if he wants it badly enough, he can learn how to help you heal.
For the last several months I’ve been facilitating You Can Help Her Heal groups with several men who are working hard to learn how to grow authentic empathy. But as two groups draw to a close, I am offering a new group, beginning the week of August 3th at 8pm EDT. If you think your partner can benefit from this group, he can let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for those who are no longer married, if you are dating, good empathy skills is one important skill set you need to watch for in a potential partner.
And to us all, may we feel and demonstrate authentic empathy during this particularly difficult time in history, when so many are isolated and alone, and so many are grieving painful loss of loved ones.
With your healing at heart,
 Attachments: Why You Love, Feel, and Act the Way You Do, Tim Clinton, PhD and Gary Sibcy, PhD, 2002