Daily Rekindling of Love

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

Romantic love is an addiction. Although we "feel" romantic love, the feeling is largely the result of a particular brain circuitry and neurochemical cocktail more closely related to the addiction or reward circuit.

Successful long term couples understand how to maintain their "addiction" to one another through daily techniques that result in mutual amplification of positive feeling. In other words, partners are able to rekindle their reward circuitry, the very same neural network that contributed to their initial romantic excitement with one another. There are three practicals ways to do this, two of which are well-known and the third not-so-well-known.

1. The Lovers' Gaze (aka primary intersubjectivity)
2. Joint attention to a third object, person, idea, activity, etc. (aka secondary intersubjectivity)
3. Conversion of Personal Positive Feeling for Mutual Amplification

The Lovers' Gaze

Arguably, it is with the eyes, or more specifically, the...

Continue Reading...

Scratching the Right Itch

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

Do you ever have an itch on your back you can't scratch yourself? Do you ever ask your partner to scratch that itch only to be frustrated when he or she continually misses the "right spot?" Missing the spot once or twice is forgivable. But what about missing it all the time? Now that's cause for suspicion, isn't it? I mean, how big is a person's back? How could someone possibly miss that spot?!

Well, lots of partners complain of missing the right spot. He buys roses when she loves tulips. She buys low-fat milk when he explicitly tells her he only drinks non-fat. He always tells her that she is sexy when she'd prefer hearing she's smart. She compliments him on what a good father he is when he wants to hear that he's a great husband.

There are countless ways partners can scratch the wrong itch and send a message that either they don't care or they don't know the target. "See! There's nothing I can do to satisfy you!" Paul screams at Cheryl...

Continue Reading...

Tortoises and Hares

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

Quite different from Airplanes and Submarines are Tortoises and Hares. While the former points to arousal preference for either high sympathetic or low parasympathetic states, the latter refers to mental processing speed, or "RPMs" as I like to call it. There are Hare and Tortoise partners in my office quite often. The Hare will run circles around the Tortoise partner, especially during periods of distress. It's important to note that the Tortoise is never fast and the Hare is never slow, distress notwithstanding. However, when partners become aroused during conflict it becomes evident that the Hare has the advantage and must be cautioned against disorienting or steamrolling his/her partner.

A Hare must be careful not to induce mutual dysregulation within the couple system by losing and befuddling his or her slower partner. Moving too fast, both verbally and non-verbally, can appear threatening and even predatory. The tortoise must help his...

Continue Reading...

Airplanes and Submarines

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

Airplanes and submarines are quite different from one another. They both travel up and down, with sea level often as their starting point. However, their atmospheres are quite different as is the speed with which they travel. Different as well are their perspectives. One views and explores the vast world above, while the other views and explores the vast world below. To the airplane, the world of the submarine may be confusing and even threatening. Equally strange perhaps is the submarine's understanding of the airplane's world.

Airplanes are fast and nimble. They can climb the heights, spin atop the world, go upside down and right side up, and still land safely and gracefully on the ground. Free and unencumbered by the view and restrictions of ground-level life, airplanes can be above it all, in the heavens with the gods. Occasionally they can become too confident, too full of themselves, and be struck down by weather or other natural...

Continue Reading...

When it comes to repair, the fastest wins.

maxims repair stan tatkin May 27, 2012

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

Our brain is biased toward making war than love. Our brainstem and lower limbic structures are always on the lookout for threat and danger. And painful memories are more easily made than pleasurable ones. This bias serves the human imperative "thou shalt not be killed." Memories are formed, at least in large part, by glutamate (neurotransmitter) and adrenaline (hormone). Strong or intense emotional experience, aided by glutamate and adrenaline, will help long term memory formation, particularly if the emotional intensity is protracted.

When one person hurts another, intentionally or not, the injured party seeks relief. If relief is not provided in a timely manner, that hurt will likely go into long term memory. When partners ignore or dismiss injuries or make unskillful attempts at repair, the offending partner is CREATING a bad memory in the injured partner -- something that will certainly come back to haunt.

Remedy: Fix, repair, make right,...

Continue Reading...

Kid and pets are easy, partners are hard

maxims stan tatkin May 27, 2012

by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
stantatkin.com

This is based on the principle that adult romantic primary attachment relationships are more difficult because of their psychobiological weight -- memories, expectations, fears, threats to security, etc. Primary partners tend to become "deep family." Like it not, partner become proxies for everyone who has come before (historically) the relationship: mother, father, brother, sister, first love, teachers, etc. Kids are smaller systems and can certainly trigger early memories and bodily experiences and the complexity of raising children is certainly no cakewalk. However, they just do not carry the same emotional, psychobiological weight as a primary partner. Pets are easy because they are cute but their brains neither amplify mutually generated positive experiences nor trigger historical attachment injuries (at least not usually).

Alas, it is our adult partners who remain our mightiest challenge to happiness as all our early attachment injuries...

Continue Reading...
Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.