A letter from Carolyn Daitch, PhD and Lissah Lorberbaum, MA
Valentine’s Day is a time when we’re inspired to embrace what’s idyllic about relationships: flowers, candle-lit dinners, and the sweetness of romance. For one day, couples are supposed to stop and experience their relationship as if each had just been hit by Cupid’s arrow—a state that so many of our clients understandably desire. But connection is about so much more than that, and it’s fundamental that our clients understand this. It’s about changing the expectation that connection depends on being able to sustain Valentine’s Day year-round and giving our clients tools to handle those moments when life is truly in session. To feel the warmth of Cupid’s arrow this Valentine’s Day as well as the 364 days in-between, we recommend that clients remember “CUPID” year-round:
C: Communication requires de-escalation: successful communication requires de-escalating your own heightened emotion before engaging your partner.
U: Understanding is not automatic: you and your partner are not always going to share the same perspective—so the assumption that your partner should, by default, understand your perspective can cause frustration and alienation for both of you.
P: Practice makes permanent: repeated practice, not just good intention or a single instance of success, brings about the change in your relationship that you want to see.
I: Interdependence is the key: a good balance of dependence and independence is the key to healthy relationships.
D: De-escalate whenever needed: if emotions start to escalate, call for an immediate cease-fire or time-out to calm down before reengaging. Heightened emotion, whether it’s anxiety, fear, anger, or sadness, only heightens disconnect in an interaction. You need to de-escalate your own heightened emotion before you’re going to experience connection in any communication.
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