THE DANCE OF FEAR AND SHAME IN RELATIONSHIPS

caption taken from dreamstime.com

caption taken from dreamstime.com

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I often see couples whose relationships are very strained and are on the brink of being irreparably broken.  There are often countless reasons why couples fall out of love and instead build armor around their hearts and fortresses around their souls.  Among the many reasons for their relationships deterioration, I want to bring to light one toxic relationship dance that most couples often fall into without even knowing it.  It involves the emotions of fear and shame.

Although this isn’t true for every man and woman, it is frequently true that men are vulnerable to feelings of shame, inadequacy, and failure.  These emotions generally cause men to either lash out with anger or simply shut down.  Women, on the other hand, frequently fear feeling hurt, isolated, and deprived.  They feel deprived, for example, of attention, connection, warmth, love, protection, validation, etc.  Unfortunately, when a woman shares these kinds of feelings with her man, he feels ashamed and not good enough, and in turn he either gets angry or stonewalls, shuts down, and emotionally disappears.

Going forwards, be sensitive to one another’s emotional vulnerabilities.  Men and women often cope with feelings of shame and fear by blaming, defending, becoming contemptuous, or stonewalling.  The essentially engage in one of two modes:  Attack or avoid.  I want to encourage you to be emotionally attuned to your partner’s feelings, and if you sense that he or she is feeling shame or fear respectively, approach him or her instead.  In addition, approach him or her with an open heart, curiousness, and a willingness to empathize with how he or she if feeling.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve personally seen this new approach tactic positively change the dynamic in couple’s relationships in a matter of weeks!!  Each person  feels safe, appreciated, and connected again, and their relationship feels loving and whole again.

If you’re relationship is stumbling over and over again in the fear/shame dance, please call me and I will give you the tools and insights to dance together anew.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post.

John Boesky, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist