When we talk about relationships, we focus and frame that establishing and maintaining relationships is built on attachment. Attachment can be defined as the emotional bond developed between two people (e.g. child and caregiver) and is something that develops and changes throughout our lives as we connect and create relationships.
Establishing attachment with another person is the essence of our existence; but what gets often overlooked is developing attunement with our partners and in our relationships. Attunement can be defined as the kinesthetic and emotional connection established between two people who have achieved a harmony in their affect, experiences, and empathy.
Attunement is something to be sought in all of our committed relations and is a powerful tool for healing when conflict, trauma, or betrayal occurs with our partner. In this article “The Attunement Bridge: Healing from an Affair,” the author provides an example of how to utilize attunement as a means of helping couples heal from the trauma of an affair. Below are some steps outlined by the author on how couples might do this:
Detached and Respectful: Remove the painful or hurt emotions from the conflict at hand and demonstrate respect during difficult conversations with your partner.
Cognitive Perspective-Taking: Make an effort to take on the perspective and experience of your partner and express genuine curiosity as to how your partner is feeling.
Exquisite Empathy and Memory Reconsolidation: As you explore your partners experiences and how they are feeling, you will develop a greater empathy for your partner. This process will allow you to transform your painful memories into loving ones.
It’s important to note though, that at the Arizona Center for Marriage and Family Therapy, we believe that attunement is applicable at any stage of the relationship and for all types of relationships. There is power in being seen and known by somebody you love and even greater power in when we are able to reciprocate that for our partner.
For more information on building attunement with your partner, check out the article here.