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Emotional regulation and learning to self-soothe

Emotional regulation is key to the success of marriage or couples counselling. When unhealthy patterns of behaviour show up in a marriage or long-term relationship, it is important for each person to reflect on their needs. For the time being, it may not be possible to have those needs met by the other person. In fact, one of the reasons that those destructive behaviours are damaging the relationship is that they hide a set of human needs existing underneath.


Through counselling and therapy, each person can learn to recognise those needs which feel as though they can’t be met by the other. Such needs, which are pretty fundamental to close relationships, include:


  • rest

  • independence

  • empathy

  • understanding

  • emotional support

  • trust

  • respect

  • honesty

  • safety (physical and psychological)


Self-soothing in relation to one’s own needs can be the precursor to asking for needs to be met by the other in the relationship. If we don’t know what our own needs are, we are liable to unconsciously project them onto the other person. Marriage or couples counselling aims to dissolve projections and clarify needs at a much more conscious level.

Once partners are regulating their emotions effectively, it becomes much easier to improve in other areas:

Identifying patterns

Building a stronger friendship

Communicating effectively

Creating intimacy

Realising your relationship's potential

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