My partner and I enjoy great passion, but I’m worried it comes at an expense– when we fight, it’s with the same intensity as our making up. I’m afraid if we learn to fight more fairly, we might lose our passion too. Is there passion without fighting?
Of course! Making up after a fight feels so good because differences are finally put aside, vulnerability and forgiveness are expressed, and you’ve come back together with your partner to be close again. The contrast between the renewed connection and the previous disconnection feels like relief, like the painful fighting was worth it.
Your worry that this kind of passion comes at a cost isn’t far off–many couples seeking counseling in Bethesda MD express a similar concern. And while it’s true that intense emotions tend to feed on each other, it’s important to remember that intensity and intimacy are not the same thing. As Harriet Lerner wisely wrote, “intimacy means that we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same.” Intense feelings–those that lead to passion as well as conflict–often disrupt the balance between individuality and connectedness that maintains intimacy. Couples who feel intense passion are fused with their partners, becoming too connected. Couples who experience intense fighting are separated from their partners, becoming too distant. It is much harder to stay emotionally connected to a partner who thinks, feels, and behaves differently without needing to change or fix their character, but this is the work of long term intimacy.
If you know a couple who struggles with this question, we hope you forward this post. Couples therapy in Bethesda MD helps couples stop the cycle of intense emotions to restore intimacy and peace.