When Will We Move Past the Pain?

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “Why does my partner keep bringing up the same issues over and over again?” It’s a common frustration in many relationships, often leading to feelings of helplessness and resentment.

But what if the solution isn’t about fixing the problem or getting your partner to “move on”? What if the key lies in something much simpler, yet profoundly powerful: curiosity?

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The CAVR Technique: A New Approach to Old Wounds

Enter the CAVR technique: Curiosity, Acknowledge, Validate, Reassure. While all four components are important, it’s curiosity that forms the foundation of this transformative approach. But why is curiosity so crucial?

The Power of Being Curious

When your partner brings up a past hurt, your first instinct might be to defend yourself or try to solve the problem. It’s a natural reaction to want to protect yourself from feeling blamed or to try to fix things quickly to make the pain go away. However, these reactions often miss the mark and can inadvertently make your partner feel unheard or invalidated. 

Defensiveness can come across as dismissive, making it seem like you’re more concerned with protecting yourself than understanding your partner’s feelings. This can shut down the conversation and create more distance between you.

On the other hand, jumping straight into problem-solving mode can also be counterproductive. While offering solutions is well-intentioned, it can overlook the emotional aspect of the issue. Your partner might feel that their feelings are being brushed aside in favor of finding a quick fix, which can leave them feeling more isolated and misunderstood.

What your partner is really seeking in these moments is understanding and connection. They want to know that their feelings matter to you and that you’re willing to take the time to listen and empathize with their experience.

By approaching the situation with genuine curiosity, you signal to your partner that you care about their emotional well-being and that you’re interested in truly understanding their perspective.

When you respond with curiosity, you create a space for your partner to express themselves fully. This means asking open-ended questions, actively listening, and validating their feelings. For example, you might say, “I can see this has been really painful for you.

Can you tell me more about how you felt?” This kind of response shows that you’re not rushing to defend yourself or solve the problem but are instead focused on connecting with your partner on a deeper emotional level.

By doing this, you open the door to deeper understanding and healing. Your partner feels heard and valued, which can strengthen your bond and build trust.

Over time, this approach can lead to more effective communication and a stronger, more resilient relationship. Understanding and connection are the foundations of a healthy relationship, and approaching conflicts with curiosity can transform moments of pain into opportunities for growth and closeness.

Curiosity in Action: A Real-World Example

Imagine your partner is upset because you were late to an important meeting. Instead of immediately apologizing or explaining yourself, try asking questions:

– “What was it like for you when I didn’t show up on time?”

– “What thoughts were going through your head?”

– “How did that make you feel?”

By asking these questions, you’re not just gathering information. You’re showing your partner that their experience matters to you, that you want to understand their perspective.

Why Repetition Isn’t Always About the Past

If your partner keeps bringing up the same issue, it’s likely not because they’re stuck in the past. More often than not, it’s because they don’t feel truly heard or understood.

Repeatedly mentioning the same concern can be a signal that there’s an unresolved emotional need or pain that hasn’t been adequately addressed. This persistence isn’t about dwelling on old grievances but about seeking acknowledgment and validation.

When your partner feels like their feelings and experiences haven’t been fully recognized, they may continue to bring up the issue in hopes of finding resolution and connection.

It’s important to realize that this isn’t an attempt to nag or blame, but rather a plea for deeper understanding. Addressing this need requires a shift from a defensive or problem-solving stance to one of empathetic engagement.

By approaching these moments with curiosity, you create a space for your partner to fully express their experience. Genuine curiosity means asking open-ended questions and listening without judgment or interruption.

For instance, you might say, “I notice that this issue is still really important to you. Can you help me understand more about how it’s affecting you?” This kind of inquiry shows that you’re not just hearing the words but are also interested in the underlying emotions and perspectives.

Creating this space allows your partner to share their feelings in a way that feels safe and validating. When someone feels truly heard, it can be incredibly healing.

They are likely to feel more connected to you and more understood, which can reduce the need to keep revisiting the same issue. This process of open communication can help to uncover the deeper layers of the problem and facilitate a more meaningful resolution.

Moreover, this approach can strengthen the bond between you and your partner. It builds trust and demonstrates that you value their emotional well-being. By being curious and open, you show that you’re willing to invest in understanding their perspective, which can lead to a more resilient and empathetic relationship.

The Challenge (and Reward) of Staying Present

Being curious isn’t always easy. It requires staying present with your partner’s pain, which can be uncomfortable. When your partner shares something painful, it can evoke a range of emotions in you, including empathy, sadness, or even defensiveness.

Staying curious means setting aside your immediate reactions and focusing entirely on understanding your partner’s experience. This can be challenging because it involves tolerating discomfort and resisting the urge to fix or avoid the situation.

However, this discomfort is often the price of genuine connection and understanding. By choosing to stay present and curious, you demonstrate a willingness to engage deeply with your partner’s feelings.

This approach acknowledges that your partner’s pain is valid and deserving of attention. It shows that you are committed to understanding their perspective, even when it is difficult. This kind of engagement requires emotional resilience and a genuine desire to connect on a deeper level.

Remember, your partner’s sharing of pain is a vulnerable attempt at connection. When they open up about their hurt, they are taking a risk, hoping for empathy and support.

Vulnerability is a cornerstone of intimacy, and how you respond to your partner’s vulnerability can significantly impact your relationship. If you meet their vulnerability with curiosity and compassion, you validate their feelings and create a safe space for them to express themselves.

Meeting that vulnerability with curiosity can strengthen your bond. By showing that you are willing to listen and understand, you build trust and emotional intimacy. Your partner will feel more secure in sharing their feelings with you, knowing that you are there to support them without judgment. This mutual understanding and emotional safety are essential for a healthy, strong relationship.

Beyond Problem-Solving: The Real Goal of Curiosity

The goal of curiosity isn’t to fix problems or find solutions. It’s about understanding and connection. When your partner shares their feelings, especially about something painful, the instinct might be to jump in and try to make things better.

While problem-solving has its place, it’s not always what your partner needs in those moments. Curiosity shifts the focus from fixing to understanding, from doing to being present.

By truly hearing your partner, you create a safe space for them to process their feelings. This involves active listening—giving them your full attention, acknowledging their emotions, and responding with empathy.

It’s about making your partner feel seen and heard without trying to change their feelings or diminish their experience. This kind of listening can be incredibly validating and reassuring, letting your partner know that their emotions are legitimate and important.

This safe space you create allows your partner to explore and articulate their feelings more deeply. Often, people need to talk through their emotions to make sense of them.

When you listen with curiosity, you enable your partner to express themselves freely, without fear of judgment or interruption. This process can help them clarify their own thoughts and feelings, leading to a better understanding of their emotional landscape.

This alone can often lead to healing and resolution. When people feel heard and understood, their emotional burden lightens. The act of sharing and being met with empathy can be profoundly healing. It can dissolve feelings of isolation and affirm their worth within the relationship. Moreover, it can pave the way for natural solutions to emerge, as understanding the root of the issue often reveals paths to resolution that were previously obscured.

Curiosity as an Ongoing Practice

Healing in relationships isn’t a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires consistent attention and effort. Just like running a long-distance race, you can’t expect to sprint to the finish line and be done. Instead, you need to pace yourself, ensuring that you are consistently putting in the work to maintain and improve your relationship.

This means regularly checking in with each other, being open to feedback, and making adjustments as needed to support each other’s emotional well-being.

Think of it like running a long-distance race. You need to constantly check in, adjust your approach, and stay attuned to what’s happening. Just as a runner monitors their pace, hydration, and energy levels, in a relationship, you need to be mindful of each other’s needs and emotions.

This ongoing attention helps to address issues before they become major problems and fosters a sense of partnership and mutual care. By staying attuned and responsive, you can navigate the challenges together and continue to grow and heal over time.

The Transformative Power of Listening

In the end, the power of curiosity lies in its ability to transform how we listen and respond to our partners. By setting aside our assumptions and truly seeking to understand, we create space for deeper connection and healing. So the next time your partner brings up an old hurt, try approaching it with curiosity. You might be surprised at the transformative power of simply listening to understand.

Feeling Stuck?

The coaches at Choose Recovery Services specialize in helping couples navigate the complex emotions and conflicts that arise from betrayal. Our team is dedicated to guiding couples in learning how to approach their relationship issues with curiosity and empathy.

By fostering an environment where both partners feel heard and validated, we help them understand and process their feelings. Through personalized coaching, support groups, and courses, we equip couples with the tools to communicate more effectively, rebuild trust, and begin the path to healing.

Our approach emphasizes the importance of emotional connection and understanding, creating a foundation for lasting recovery and stronger relationships. Contact us to learn how we can help.

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