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Embodied Couples Therapy: A Pathway to Deep Connection and Healing

In every relationship, both partners often crave connection. However, an invisible barrier frequently drives a wedge between them. This silent, pervasive presence is residual trauma - stored deep within the body and cellular memory. It is no one's fault, but it is a significant underlying reason relationships struggle or even end.

Couples typically seek "better communication" to resolve their issues. Yet, while communication is cognitive, trauma is not. Trauma is body-based, and this is where traditional methods fall short. My approach is fundamentally different, focusing on body-based healing to restore and enhance connection.

I'm here to tell you that you can overcome these barriers and rediscover understanding and connection with your partner. Some of my clients even experience deeper connections than they've ever known, even after decades of being in a relationship.

Case Study: From Shutdown to Openness

In a recent session with a couple, it was evident that the woman had undergone extensive body-based trauma therapy, whereas her husband had not. This is a common scenario. The couple was in a typical standstill, unable to communicate effectively.

I guided the woman into a body-awareness exercise. We took her statement, "I feel really angry," and explored it as bodily sensations. We delved into her body's inner landscape, letting her body communicate the sensations of "anger" in that moment. If clients lack this ability, I teach them how to develop it.

We performed this exercise in front of her husband.

In that moment, the word "angry" was unnecessary. What mattered were the felt sensations she experienced: rapid breath, heat in the chest, tightness in the throat, constriction in the stomach, and an upward, rising feeling, like everything was about to spin out of control.

Why was she angry? She was waiting for him to initiate. Why wasn’t he initiating? Fear of rejection. This was their trauma loop, preventing connection.

While discussing anger, emotions, shame, and fear of rejection might have been endless, the exercise's impact was immediate. Her husband, witnessing her process, was stunned. "I've never seen anything like that," he said. He knew she was angry but didn’t understand the extent of what was involved. This realization brought up his own thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, leading to a significant sense of compassion for her. This compassion allowed him to stay present, rather than flee from fear of disappointment.

Compassion is nearly always a result of this work.

When he could stay, express empathy, and witness her, I asked her if she was willing to be with the sensations of something she had expressed earlier.

She agreed.

"You said you desired for him to initiate more presence practices during the week," I said.

“Would you be willing to track and communicate the sensations in your body when you imagine him initiating and coming to you, taking the lead?”

She tuned into her body and reported calm breath in her chest. She slowed down and found an unexpected opening in her heart, describing it like clouds parting in her chest, her face smiling when she opened her eyes.

“There’s hope,” her husband said, recognizing that her sensations indicated hope for their connection.

This couple had been in significant conflict for a long time.

All of this was new information for them both. They hadn’t been able to find these words or this understanding before, or even get past the anger and disconnection to know what lay beneath. This is embodied couples therapy - which is more effective than traditional therapy.

You’re not trying to win arguments with your partner. What you want is actual connection. 

The Role of Residual Trauma in Relationships

A woman's body holds the patterns of everything that came before this moment unless and until she does the trauma-healing work to clear them. Even then, these patterns run deep.

It is surprising how little men understand what women have collectively endured and how this impacts their nervous systems. Experiences such as body shaming, sexual abuse, childhood abuse, and being taken for granted by men affect a woman's body and nervous system in intimate situations and relationships.

Every male client learns something about the tender nature of his partner's body impacted by residual trauma, often discovering that she has been ignoring these signals for years without his knowledge.

If you are a man seeking a deeper connection with a woman, it is crucial to compassionately understand what her body needs. The more she ignores and overrides her body’s signals to slow down, stop, just cuddle, or have sex if she’s not entirely into it, the more underlying problems will build up and potentially implode.

True presence with her body is the key to restored and deeper connection.

This is the silent divide between many couples - unacknowledged trauma in the nervous system, impacting intimacy, sex, and connection on all levels. Both men and women experience trauma and messages to ignore the body’s true signals, so this understanding goes both ways.

A New Beginning for a Beautiful Connection

Learning to notice body sensations in the present moment is different from talking about emotions or analyzing situations. As you and your partner develop this awareness, intimacy and connection can flourish. Residual trauma can heal and leave the body for good.

You and your partner have the potential to heal with each other in a transformative way that isn’t codependent and doesn’t require complex emotional language. Men, when you are embodied in your presence, you will see your woman’s body respond to you positively. I promise.

About Sarah Poet

Sarah Poet, M.Ed., is a trauma-informed couples coach, masculine/feminine energy expert, and connection guide. Drawing on personal and professional experience, she has developed unique couples coaching methodologies that, together with responsive 1:1 coaching, help couples to move through stubborn blocks in connection and free up so much energy for years of connection to come. She offers courses, live couples sessions, and guest speaking for men's and women's groups.

Visit Sarah Poet's Conscious Relating and reach out with any questions.

Couple holding hands
More connection is possible

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This was so delightful and healing to read! Powerful work.

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