By Valeria Vila, MA, BEd, LMHC
People find meaning and purpose within their lives through relationships with others. Among the most important relationships one can have, romantic interactions are very significant. Certainly, not one day of the year is more symbolic of amorous relationships, than Valentine's Day.
In the romantic month of February, couples all around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day. Throughout the course of the so called “love month” expectations to improve relationships arise. Couples hope February 14th to be a celebration with affection amongst each other. Lovers exchange cards, chocolates, and often gift baskets, that contain meaningful objects to their partner that say not only, “I love you”, but also, “I know what you like.” Like every day and every celebration, we have the opportunity to learn and improve. On this passionate month, I invite you to balance yourself in order to balance your relationship and be able to rejoice a special Valentine’s Day.
Some couples, enjoy a mature relationship with an open communication, and a balanced interaction. This allows them to grow affectively, to set common goals, to enjoy the time together, and to plan future projects.
In the contrary, other couples live in recurrent disagreement, misunderstandings, and constant verbal abuse. They are incapable of enjoying themselves; they lack common goals and eventually, the gap between them grows progressively.
All throughout my practice I often hear: “He has the power to unbalance me, before I realize it, I find myself screaming and fighting”, “We never have a full week of peace, there are always arguments or disagreements”, “She says things certain ways, and her attitude always triggers a fight.”
Why do certain people react to the others attitude? Why do they give the other person the power to affect our own balance?
Imagine yourself watching a movie. The movie can be watched by you alone or with a group of people. Certainly, the sensation will be different in each case. If let’s say, it is scary movie and you do decide to invite a group of people, as you are watching the movie, they will be screaming therefore, the movie will scare you even more. Just like, funny scenes seem funnier when others laugh along with you.
Now the question is: Are emotions contagious?
Undoubtedly, the power to spread emotions does exist. This most often happens within couple relationships. You don’t need to be around a lot of people to feel an emotional influence. This is why, within a couple, when one person starts afflicting the other emotionally, the other starts doing it too, and a negative spiral begins. This eventually grows and worsens the problem instead of solving it.
For instance, Pam claims to be negatively provoked by her partner Scott, she feels he doesn’t back her up and support her in her decisions. Pam promptly feels agitated and frustrated. Tired of the repeating sentiment of lack of support, and once again reviving a negative experience, she starts to cry out accusing him of not loving her. As he begins to respond to her accusations, Pam interrupts him, and keeps screaming. At the same time, Scott start to feel agitated and escalates to Pam’s level of agitation; they both soon start blaming each other and this progresses to an emotional counteractive ping-pong match.
When couples fall in this game of mutual unbalancing, they begin to develop a defensive attitude that gradually replaces effective communication.
Does this pattern sound familiar to you?
If the answer is yes, start by regulating yourself first. When you start feeling negative emotions, and your partner is in balance, he or she will be able to pass his or her positive emotions to you. Just like when a calmed mother brings calm back to a crying baby.
The goal is to practice self balance, to avoid interactions where both partners pass negative emotions between each other.
Be aware of the way you talk to yourself, and try to remain centered. Track your body’s reactions, relax your muscles and analyze your ability of handling stress.
Once you are able to attain self balance you will certainly be able to convey only your positive emotions to your partner, and both of you will enjoy not only a romantic Valentine’s Day but a long lasting healthy relationship.