ERP 394: How To Express Your Emotional Needs In Relationship – An Interview With Dr. Laura Louis

By Posted in - Podcast October 17th, 2023 0 Comments

Are you finding it difficult to communicate your emotional needs in your relationship, leaving you and your partner feeling like you’re speaking different emotional languages? Sad to say, you are not alone in this struggle. Many individuals face the challenge of effectively expressing their emotional desires to their loved ones.

In this enlightening conversation, we delve into this very issue and explore actionable steps to improve your communication and connection. From recognizing emotional triggers to embracing self-soothing techniques, you’ll discover how to build an environment of safety and openness in your relationship. Join us as we unravel the secrets to clearer communication and a deeper emotional connection.

Dr. Laura Louis, author of “Marital Peace,” is a Licensed Psychologist with a Ph.D. from Howard University’s APA-accredited Counseling Psychology Program. With over 10 years of experience in the field, she specializes in multicultural and couples counseling. Her expertise includes increasing intimacy, rebuilding trust post-infidelity, and enhancing communication skills. Dr. Louis also addresses various clinical issues, offers career counseling, and aids in acculturation for immigrants. Her background spans diverse settings, from psychiatric hospitals to elementary schools, where she focuses on improving sleep and stress management for individuals and organizations.

In this Episode

4:17 Introducing Dr. Laura Louis: A multifaceted expert in relationship counseling.

7:05 The foundation of expressing emotional needs.

15:02 Various factors that can unconsciously interfere with our ability to Express emotional needs.

22:13 A step-by-step approach to expressing emotional needs.

29:35 Navigating emotional risks in communication.

39:08 Practical aspects of recognizing emotional triggers and self-soothing techniques.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Recognize emotional triggers: Identify when you or your partner gets triggered and learn to feel it in your body.
  • Develop skills for self-soothing to manage emotional reactions and regain rational thinking.
  • Express clear needs: Use the “When X happens, I feel Y, and I would like Z” framework to communicate needs clearly and positively.
  • Shift from complaining about what you don’t want to expressing your longings and positive needs.
  • Understand that sometimes there are competing emotional needs in a relationship, and be willing to compromise and influence each other.
  • Both partners should actively express their emotional needs to co-create a relationship that represents both individuals fully.

Mentioned

Marital Peace (*Amazon Affiliate link) (book)

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Connect with Dr. Laura Louis

Websites: atlantacoupletherapy.com

Facebook: facebook.com/AtlantaCoupleTherapy | facebook.com/groups/BlackMarriageMattersOfficial (*group)

YouTube: youtube.com/channel/UCh2I0xywV8TuKM9xs4yqh2g

Instagram: instagram.com/dr.lauralouis

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship 

Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins 

Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts/

Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins 

Twitter: @DrJessHiggins 

Website: drjessicahiggins.com  

Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Dr. Laura Louis, thank you for joining us here today.

Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here and have this conversation. I think this is such a beautiful platform that you’ve created.

Thank you. I know you were a guest previously. So for people who might have missed that episode, I’ll make sure to put that link in today’s show notes. For people that are a little bit more acquainted or just getting to know you here, what’s the latest for you, what are you excited about these days, and what would you like to share?

Yeah. So I’ve been doing a lot of trainings and workshops all around the country, on relationship habits, communication, rebuilding trust. That is the main areas that I’ve set out to talk about, as well as the conversation that we’re getting in today around how to express your emotional needs. I’ve done a number of media features; NBC, ABC, Wall Street Journal. So I’m just excited to be able to support people in having the relationships that they dreamed of, getting back to the marriages that they said “I Do” to. I’ve been doing a bit of counseling at Atlanta Couple Therapy, and then as well as online work. I have a membership at the After I Do Academy, where I support couples in having really enriching conversations.

Lovely, wonderful. I appreciate your enthusiasm and just your love for supporting people in developing themselves and growing in their relationship. It’s really at the crux of so much. When our relationships are healthy and secure and fulfilling, it just helps us be that much more able to expand individually in various areas. So I love just your willingness to collaborate with us here today. 

So let’s pivot towards our topic around supporting people in expressing their emotional needs. Where would you like to begin with just our foundation of what we’re talking about here?

So one, I think it’s important to be clear about what a person’s emotional needs are. Because sometimes, as a couples’ therapist, sometimes I find that people don’t know. They don’t know themselves of, like, I really need to be affirmed right now. Or can you hold my hand, this has been really tough? Or I’m not feeling as connected lately. So just first, starting with self-awareness. I think it always starts with to thine own self be true. Self-awareness, and then we can start to communicate that to our partners to come out of the struggle.

Oh my gosh, yes. If I’m hearing you correctly, it sounds as though you’re saying before we even enter into the conversation of how to communicate, having awareness first is really going to set that communication up more successfully.

Yes, absolutely 100%. I was recently talking to a couple, and we were talking about how she had wanted her partner to wash her hair. So this is the bonding part of their relationship is her partner washing her hair. This particular day, her partner was not in that space of washing her hair, and so she was just kind of complaining a little bit about it. Then apparently she just said, well, she just went and washed it herself. And we were talking about how, in this particular case, early development was you don’t ask. Like, you don’t ask for what you need, because people won’t show up; they won’t meet the need.

They’ll dismiss it, deny it. Before we go into that, just some of the backdrop that makes this a little bit more tender, or how we might even block our awareness around our needs. You’re speaking about something that I think is pretty common, which is, one of the things that might alert us to, there is an emotional need, there is some complaint, or even desire to criticize. That might be a little bit of a signpost to say, oh, I need something right now. Because when we’re not aware, we might not even know that we want to ask the question around like, what am I needing or what’s happening here? Tell me what do you think.

100%. The complaint starts of like: “Oh my goodness, you’re asking for this again.” So understanding, well, what is the longing that I have within my criticism? Maybe I’m desiring a moment to myself. Maybe I need to refuel and I haven’t. Maybe I haven’t taken a break to eat. Just understanding, what is happening in me, and how can I be more explicit in myself and being aware of how I’m feeling, and why this is coming out as a complaint?

Exactly. I don’t know if you’re familiar, it sounds like you are, with the Gottman’s research. Just underneath every criticism is a longing and love bid. So yes, to get some pause, that if there’s an impulse to want to take issue with the other, that perhaps if we slow down and get curious around, so if I got that need met, or if I got what I’m asking for, what would that allow me to feel? Or what’s the longing, what’s in this for me, what am I needing right now. Just to get curious about that. I love this, thank you for just acknowledging that.

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“Sometimes we have old narratives that don’t even apply to our present situation. Like, we have our inner child, our inner little girl inside of us, that is afraid to ask.”

In this situation, it may be that your partner would meet the need if they just knew. But that inner girl inside says, “I’m scared. I’m scared of abandonment. I’m scared of rejection.”

Precisely, so thank you for dropping this in and getting a little deeper here. Because often what’s operating in the dynamic, while it might sound like: “Oh, you don’t want to show up right now, or you don’t want to lean in and be there for me, or wash my hair.” Yet, it might just be about the act of the hair washing, or that what might be what it sounds like. But underneath for this person that’s seeking that experience or wanting to feel that nurturing and has that longing, it means so much more than just the practical logistical washing of the hair. Am I understanding that?

Yes. Because in this particular conversation, the person started to cry. The cry is not about the act of getting her hair washed, it’s so much more deeper than that. It is: can I reach for you, and if I reach for you, do you see me, and when you see me, does it matter? Do I matter? That’s really the conversation that’s masked in the hair washing, but the deeper conversation is that.

Yes. There might be unique, specific qualities in which someone feels that even more; we talk about love languages, we talk about different experiences, and even just the feeling, the tactical touch of feeling that attention physically and having that nurturing. I mean, it might, for this individual, cultivated deeper feeling of that being cared for in a really special intimate way. Not everyone’s going to wash somebody’s hair, that’s a very personal thing. So I appreciate that. Then what you’re also speaking to is what runs interference is perhaps two things, one of which is how we’re perceiving the other, how we’re maybe reading their cues. We can read them and misunderstand them. Or we could be perceiving them correctly, but we again don’t know what’s really going on for them on the inside. But secondly, you’re saying, we might sabotage or even reach out of the get-go because of our past experiences. 

Yes, and John Gottman will call these reaches, bid. 

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“We make a bid to our spouse, to our partner, to our loved ones. But for all sorts of different reasons, the person may not see it as a bid, they may not know the meaning of the bid.”

That is tying into, to your point, the actual love language of physical touch, and what it means to initiate. Can I initiate? Is it okay for me to initiate? Or do I just need to be the giver and not the receiver? Sometimes that’s the person’s script, their narrative.

Sometimes if we’re getting a response that looks like our partner’s not responding to the bid, and again, we don’t know how come; maybe it’s they didn’t sleep well, maybe they’ve got a meeting coming up. It’s like, I would love to wash your hair, can we do that tonight? Or can we do that whenever there’s a circling back to it, so it’s not just a full-on rejection. Yet, we don’t necessarily flush this all out. It gets really truncated.

Sometimes it’s completely unconscious. Sometimes it’s just assumptions that are being made. To your point, what if the other person is tired? They love you, they want to meet your needs, but they’re tired. Do they get to say that? Do they get to be tired?

Yes. To the second point about what runs interference, I mean, this is really probably the crux of what we want to talk about today, help me if I’m right. That not only, as we mentioned, having awareness, but what gets in the way of us expressing our emotional need, and to slow down to really look at there are some backdrop to this in our upbringing. Do you want to say more about that? Because you’ve already kind of mentioned it, but let’s talk more here.

Yes, it is. So many things in our childhood that impact who we are later in life, in some cases, it may be a negligent caretaker, that just for whatever reason, they couldn’t give the child what they needed. Maybe they didn’t see it themselves. Sometimes, a person can only give what they’ve seen modeled. So then you have the caregiver that is unaware of how to meet the child’s emotional needs. In some cases, the child learns they need to perform to get their needs met. Well, if I’m happy, if I’m perfect, if I always have everything just right and just together, then maybe at some point, I’ll be able to have ask.

And get that responsiveness, be able to occupy some space and get that emotional needs of love and care and being seen. I mean, there’s so many things, we could put this on the continuum. We have various hardship life circumstances that might be putting strain on the parents, that they just don’t have the time to really be that attuned. Whereas to your point, you have intergenerational ways of parenting and what gets modeled, whether or not trauma is involved. Or even if trauma is not involved, it’s just like, we don’t do emotion, that we’re just much more practical. Like, what have you done today, what’s the achievement? Tell me about how you did your chores, all of those things.

I guess, to that point, so many people get confused around this and look at their upbringing and feel as though there was no trauma, in the classical sense of big T’s. I had all my needs met, there was no big real issue. Yet, I don’t know that I got a lot of comfort, I don’t know I got a lot of soothing when I was scared or hurt or feeling sad. How do you help people acknowledge that even if on paper, everything looks solid and secure, that still they might have this difficulty accessing the emotional need based on those early environment?

That’s good. Well, part of my work as a psychologist and couples’ therapist, is I do an intake assessment. A lot of times, that intake going into the family history, gives me so much data. Then also, the relationship history. Sometimes it’s like, this didn’t just start in this relationship, it’s been the last five relationships. Like, when it comes to expressing your needs, when it comes to having an expectation of reciprocity, all of that has been a struggle in all of the relationships that the person has been in. So that’s how I approach really being able to get in there and find out what’s really going on, is looking at, well, when you were sad as a kid, what do you remember about how your mom? Or whoever the caregiver you have; sometimes it’s grandma. How did your grandma respond? Was it, wipe your tears, we’ve got stuff to do? Or was it acknowledgement? Did you see that behavior be modeled? What were the relationships like around you? So not even just how you were treated, but what was your parents’ relationship with each other as it relates to their feelings, expressing their feelings, resolving conflict, allowing yourself to be influenced by your spouse. 

So that’s really where it starts, and then giving them permission to have a capacity. Because sometimes, you’re not able to have a limit. I had a conversation with somebody recently, and I think they had been sick, and then now it was time for them, according to them, to return to work. I’m like, you’re still coughing though. It was like, well, I have this big project. So my question was, how bad does it need to get for you to sit down? Do you need to go to the hospital to sit down? Like, what’s the moment that you give yourself permission to sit down?

When is it okay to have a need? When is it okay to turn towards that need and give space for that? Okay, so I have a few other questions coming up for me. But what we’re talking about is just that early learning. I couldn’t agree with you more that those questions around: where did you feel comforted, who did you go to, what did that comfort look like, and was it dependable? Did you ever feel betrayed? Or what did you do when you couldn’t turn towards somebody, how did you get that comfort? Then to your point, yes, what was the emotional tone and literacy, if you will, of the home experience? How did you know when your parents were upset or angry or having issue, how was that visible? Or was it even visible? That does give some really good indicators. So, so important.

It’s interesting. Like, we were talking and we were going into that space of, okay, so this is what it looks like right now in adulthood. It looks like I have the message that I work when I’m sick. I was like, where did you learn that? It was: “Well, I was working two jobs and doing an internship, and I was working six days a week, and I had one day off, and I was watching a show. And my dad said, you’re lazy. You’re sitting down and you’re watching television?” I was like, that’s it. That’s where that narrative, that script was born in that moment.

Wow. So to the first point, to bring awareness to that, then we can almost go back and show up for that part that felt like what happened to that part that had a need, and really show up for that. Do you want to say more about that?

Yes. So it’s having compassion for that person, that little girl inside of you that could not even take a moment to watch this 30-minute show after working six days straight. Learning to be compassionate with yourself is dealing with the guilt of: “I shouldn’t be, I need to finish this, I have a to-do list.” It’s extending grace to that person inside you that couldn’t have permission to rest. Then it’s increasing awareness of capacity. Like, I don’t have limitless amount of time, energy, internal resources. I think, for me as a psychologist, it’s getting my clients into agreement of that. That’s part of my approach is getting them to say, yes, it does make sense that I can’t work 24 hours a day. It makes sense that you need to rest. It makes sense that if you’re having sleepless nights, that it would impact how alert you are, how much energy you have. So it’s getting to that. It’s like, yes, that makes sense. Then now we can do the work.

Yes. Because I’m with you on this, this is where those fears or worries live, and this is also where those deeper needs live. If we can make that visible, which requires some vulnerability, that that’s typically where our partner can see more clearly, and can be empathetic and show up and validate, to your point. Like, of course! One of the conflicts my husband and I have had in the past around conflict is very classic. He’s much more contained, wants to keep things regulated and paced. I’m much more curious, and it could look like a pursuer even. But I had enough skill to not blast off. I don’t know, still it was this energy of seeking. So when he would give me cues of slowing down or even pausing, I didn’t understand what that was initially. I thought it was like, oh, maybe he doesn’t want to really resolve this right now. 

It felt like rejection.

Yes, maybe it’s not important to him. Once I really understood what was happening for him on the inside, his fear, what he was needing to stay regulated and to feel like he could engage, I was like: “Oh yeah, I want to help. That make sense. I want to show up for that part.” And that helped really. I mean, there’s many things that helped, and we do our best to walk the talk. But that was very important about coming together and getting this agreement around: “No, we’re not going to just do my style of blasting through and trying to get to the resolve, we’re going to pace this in a way that we can both feel regulated and are resolving any difference.”

Oh, that’s good. I love how you are as a leader, and that you share your experiences. Because I think that that gives other people permission to say, all right, I can be flawed in some way too, and it’s okay. It doesn’t take anything away from my gifting, and in fact, it’s strengthening that.

Thank you, I appreciate that. I’m trying to resonate, too, with what you’re describing. Because when we’re missing each other in relationship, this gets so off-track. And what we talked about initially around complaint, we have certain strategies that are coping or protective, and that does not help our partners see us. It gets us more off-track.

That’s so true. A lot of times, we may enter fight-flight-freeze mode, and not even know it. Not even know, okay, I just got triggered. So part of the work that I do in the After I Do Academy is increasing my clients’ awareness of what was the trigger? Because if we are in fight mode, then we feel like, I need to defend myself, I need to protect myself.

Yes, so key. Okay, great. Well, I want to make sure that we get to, actually, what would you recommend when expressing a need? Is there anything? We talked about building awareness, looking at what our longing is, what it represents, what it means, and possibly even look at how we defend or cope or protect ourselves, not revealing those deeper. But when we do want to express more vulnerability, take that emotional risk, can you help set this up for how do you advise for people to express an emotional need?

So one thing I would say is, there’s this sentence that I give to my students in the After I Do Academy. It’s like, “When X happens, I feel Y, and I would like Z.” So X is something very specific. I work with couples, so sometimes they have a long history of everything that happened in the last 20 years. So I was like, okay, we’re just going to stay present right now for this moment in the here and now, what happened. I’ll tell them, try to avoid any statements of you did this and you did that, because that tends to trigger defensiveness in the other person, where it’s hard for them to stay empathetic and listen. Then it’s the feeling. It’s interesting, because we should have a class on how to express feelings; it should be a whole class in high school. So I have this feeling sheet that I’ll give to my couples in the Academy, where they can see what the emotions are, and it’s called the Emotional Language Vocabulary. So they can start to name, with accuracy, what their feeling is. That’s so meaningful. 

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“If we just stay in the criticism space, it’s hard for the person to have compassion, the other person to have compassion with that. So we bring in the emotion to make meaning of what is happening.”

So when X happened, I felt Y, I would like Z. I think Z is so important, because we need to give our partners clarity around what the recipe for success is. So the requests that expresses a positive need. I really feel supportive when we can take time at the end of the day, where we’re prioritizing the intimate part of our relationship. I wonder if we can look at that more and see how we can dedicate time on a regular basis to going out on a date.” So you see, it’s specific, I believe our success follows our clarity. 

And in the positive, not what you don’t want.

Oh yes! 

So much more direction. 

Yes, that is so it! A lot of times, in relationships, we may complain about: “I don’t want this, or you always do that, you never do this.” And we think we have given the person the instructions on how to treat us, and we have not. That has not taken place. 

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“It’s so interesting when we start to get further in that dialogue of how to transform a criticism, to your point, into a longing; a longing that expresses a positive need.”

Yeah, there’s more of a reveal there rather than it’s all hidden and we’re coming at them and we want something, but they have to decode it, but also defend themselves in the process. It’s so much more to work with, and it runs a lot of interference. 

So one of the things that we talked about before we even started recording is how often people resist this expressing one’s needs clearly in relationship, because they feel as though their significant other should know. If they really love them, if they were paying attention and they really cared, they would get it; they would know. I wouldn’t have to spell this out. If I spell it out, it devalues it.

Oh, my goodness! If I had a dollar for every time I heard those exact words as a couples’ therapists, I’d be a millionaire. Because that’s such a common feeling that people have. If I have to ask you to help with these dishes, you really don’t want to wash the dishes. Maybe they don’t want to wash the dishes. But let’s still ask, let’s still make it clear what your desires are. Because if we don’t ask, then we’re definitely not.

No, and to your point, I don’t think partners have the same preferences for cleanliness or promptness or planning. There’s all different types of differences, and we could get caught up in what’s right or wrong, or what the right way to fold a sheet is or something. But if we look at what the meaning is, as we’ve been talking, that’s where the partner is so much more inclined to respond. Because they’re like, of course I love you, of course I want to help, of course I want to be a team player and aligned with you and have this bondedness. If that’s what this is meaning for you, I can get onboard with that. It doesn’t mean you’re right, that your way is right. It just means that I want to be onboard with you around the meaning.

Yes, that’s so good. 

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“That is so good to have those deeper, meaningful conversations, where a person isn’t having to swim to the bottom of the ocean to try to decode and figure out, and then it’s like, we’re setting them up for failure.”

Like, we’re setting them up for failure, and then we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment when we make the person work so hard to try to figure out what our needs are.

They might be working. I’ve seen this, I’m sure you have, where the partner is working and they have a laundry list of all the things that they do. The other is like, well, it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s this thing. So they’re working really hard, but they’re not hitting the mark, because it’s not as clear.

They don’t know, they don’t know what the mark is. Because sometimes we haven’t told them, sometimes we’re afraid to tell them, sometimes all these different things that are going on that are getting in the way of true authenticity in our conversations. So I think if we can create a space where it feels safe to express needs, where we are getting support even on how to, and that’s through counseling or through working with someone to help make sense. Like we talked about the early childhood experiences, our relationships can thrive so much when we’re having these clear conversations.

No kidding! One of the things I find myself saying is, one of the things I’m trying to do is help couple or help partners find each other. It’s almost as if the way we’re describing this, it’s setting it up for success. So I’m actually stepping in and I’m meeting you in this place that I’m hoping you’ll meet me, but it’s not like I’m hiding and asking you to come find me. It’s like I’m participating in this finding each other, meeting in this place of connection. It’s not asking my partner to mind-read, or play hide-and-go-seek, and try to decode it, crack the code. So we’re really participating in that connection.

That’s good. That’s one of the reasons why I like the Five Magical Hours, because it’s saying I’m going to dedicate some time, like reunions, 20 minutes every day, to us connecting. Because we know, couples are living really busy lives. So what if we carve out time for what really matters, us connecting our bond?

Okay, I have two questions. One is, when one is trying to work with this fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, and it is scary. The way we’re talking about it, it’s very practical, and we are acknowledging a lot of the emotional tone of it. But sometimes this can be really terrifying. Can you speak about how you help people take that emotional risk, that can be pretty scary to reveal and reach to their other?

One of the things that I do is I really break it down into small bite-sized chunks, and I really hold their hand through having a conversation, and then I prepare the other person to receive it. If they don’t receive it, I take the bullet and I say, well, can I help you with this? So I know that both people may be struggling with something; how to hear, how to receive, how to communicate. So I think just having a guide for when it gets difficult makes a huge difference. So we’ll do some things, like with the Imago dialogue, if you’re familiar with the Imago work. So with Imago dialogue, one person is the listener, one person is the speaker, and there’s this component of reflective listening and then emotional validation. So I say to them, I know you’re having a reaction. I know you’re having a reaction as your partner is talking, and we’re going to get to that, we’re definitely 100% going to get to your reaction. But before we do, can you just tell me what you heard your partner say? Sometimes it’s spot on, it’s exactly what the person was saying. Sometimes it’s totally different, and they’re like, wow, he said this and you heard this. So then we talk about how was the show up, and what was being triggered in that moment that might have made it hard to hear?

Okay, so you’re saying the assistance of having a well-trained couples’ therapist coach, that can help assist in this practice. Because what we’re talking about is the one that wants to take the emotional risk and express the emotional need. If they don’t have previous experiences where that has been safe, we’re almost helping them build a new experience, new learning, and there’s some really going slow, showing up and being that support. I mean, you’re a little bit of a proxy to help them feel that support to take that risk. They didn’t have the opportunity of having a parent or someone make that okay, welcome that, assist them, guide them. So in some ways, we are, in our role, helping them do that. Is that right? 

Yes, that is spot on. So it’s the modeling. Because sometimes, my client may say something, and I know their person could not hear, I can tell they’re trigger. I’m like, let me just try to reframe it a little bit, what I think you are saying is this. Is that right? They say, yeah, that’s totally right. So then we’re like, how can we apply this outside this session? Because I’m not going to always be with you every single time you have an argument. I want you to have this skill set whether you’re with me or you’re not with me. So it’s the modeling, it’s the psychoeducation. 

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“One other element that I think is really crucial in this is self-soothing. Do I recognize in my body that my heart is beating above 100 beats per minute? Well, John Gottman says, the ability to think rationally, once you get above 100 beats per minute, the prefrontal cortex just does not work in the same way at that point.”

It’s not available. It’s offline. 

It’s offline, yes. So then we talk about, you recognize that you got triggered, now what do we do about it? Because sometimes a person can feel it in their body, but not take the next step of like: Okay, I need to have a moment of prayer, or I need to listen to some soft music, or I need to go for a walk or meditate. Sometimes the skill set of self-soothing is something that we need to work on then.

Yes, and just to even be able to internalize your voice or my voice or whomever is helping guide. That it’s almost like a way of re-parenting the part that didn’t get it. Like, it’s okay, it’s scary, it makes sense that it’s scary. And what comes on the other side of taking this risk, you can do this. And what it’s like to get that support to take that risk, and then to feel like your partner responds. I mean, that’s what we’re all in service of, is that connection, that response, and that healing, which is so incredibly powerful. 

I believe you might have addressed the second question that I had, which was, if people are having competing emotional needs, that that often occurs where both people are having emotional needs at the same time. And what you’re saying is, through Imago dialogue, there can be taking turns. Is there anything else you want to say about that here? I know we could probably do a whole episode about that. But anything you want to comment on?

Yeah, that’s such a great question. Because we do sometimes have competing emotional needs, and sometimes it is compromise. I know John Gottman talks about this concept around getting gridlocks. So sometimes we need to allow our partners to influence us, and we also need to explore within ourselves, how much am I okay with that? Like, is it just what I say goes? Is it like, this is the way I want to do it, this is the way my mom did it, so this is the way I think we should do it. Or is it, hmm, I never thought about it that way? So the willingness to compromise, the willingness to allow yourself to be influenced by your partner, I think there’s so much growth that can happen in those spaces. 

Yes, thank you for acknowledging. I know that something you’re really helping people do is develop and grow themselves in relationship, and also their relationship growth. Because even as we’re talking about emotional needs, I didn’t name this, I thought about it earlier. But there’s a lot of people who are in relationship and feel as though, based on their early experiences, that deferring or pleasing the other, that’s the path towards intimacy. Yet, when we don’t express at all, or even acknowledge, to your point, our emotional needs, the relationship starts to form for more of the preference of one, and it doesn’t represent both. So there’s so much that is, how critical this is for both individuals to be participating and expressing needs, so that the relationship is a reflection of both, and also, there’s an intimacy. How do we have that intimacy when one is not fully participating, so to speak, with good intentions, but not knowing that they can occupy the space and co-create with the other?

That’s good. I love that word, co-create. I think sometimes a person may start off with reaching, with making a bid. And sometimes they can start to stonewall, start to shut down, start to feel like my needs won’t be met, so what’s the point of me expressing it? So in those spaces, to create that feeling of safety, the self-soothing, so that they see, I can make this safe for me. Maybe I set up boundaries too, safe boundaries. Maybe I set aside time, like 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock at night may not be the time to have this conversation. I’m tired, I’m hungry, you’re not going to get the best version of me there.

No, you’re right. There’s so many subtleties to this, that we might misread a cue as we talked about before. If someone’s a little shy to bring, they might just take the person being busy as a slight. So there’s a lot of nuances. 

Thank you so much for everything you’ve shared. I know our time is limited, we both have appointments to get to. So can you share, for people who want to work with you want to learn more about what you’re offering, or just want to stay connected, what would you invite people to do as far as accessing what you have to offer?

Sure. So I have an agency, it’s called AtlantaCoupleTherapy.com. So if you’re wanting to do deeper work and really working out some of these things around emotional vulnerability, around how you get your needs met, understanding some of the early childhood wounds that may not be, to your point, a big C, but it may have been traumas of just more micro-traumas. If any of what I’ve said has resonated with you, I invite you to go to AtlantaCoupleTherapy.com.

Okay, and what might they find there?

So when you go there, you’ll find videos, you’ll find blogs, and then you’ll also find a way for us to connect. So if you’d like to book a session, you can book a session right there on the website. Also, our phone number is there. Our phone number is 404-496-8070. That’s what you’ll find on the site.

Awesome! Wonderful. I’ll make sure to have the link on today’s show notes. Dr. Laura Louis, thank you so much for being with us here today.

Thank you for having me again.

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching