Premarital and Couples: Do You Give or Receive "Still Face"? | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Palo Alto Online |

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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Premarital and Couples: Do You Give or Receive "Still Face"?

Uploaded: Jan 3, 2020
What is Still Face? Watch this short video by Dr. Ed Tronick (director of UMass Boston's Infant-Parent Mental Health Dept.). Yes, this relates to your adult relationship. When you look blankly at your partner when s/he is talking and/or interacting with you, you are giving Still Face. It just as upsetting to adults as it is to babies -- you just hide it better.

Healthy relationships are about emotional attunement. You show and give attunement with your voice, your facial expressions, and your body language.

Withdrawing or disconnecting from your partner, whether physically, mentally, or emotionally, is a coping strategy developed early in life; and usually for good reason(s). In some way, withdrawal helped you feel safe. Whether there was a lot of yelling going on, inconsistent attention, abuse, withdrawal, or something else, avoiding situations was likely a healthy choice as a child.

Now, as an adult, take a few minutes to consider these questions: How does withdrawal/disconnection/lack of attunement serve or harm your life? How does it play out in your relationships at home, at work, socially? You might make a list of how it helps, how it harms, and what is interesting about it that neither helps or harms.

Your traits are useful, when you use them in the right volume in the right situation. If someone is behaving aggressively toward you, withdrawing may be the best response. If your partner wants to talk about a topic with you, withdrawing likely won't be the best response. You always can say you'll talk about it later -- just be sure you go back and do so. Otherwise, that's just another form of Still Face.
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