Dr. Dean Ornish answered:
That is the dilemma. You can't really be in an intimate relationship without being vulnerable, but when you feel attacked, the last thing you want to do is to make yourself vulnerable. When you feel judged or criticized or attacked, you stop listening. Then the aspects that make a relationship the most joyful are the ones that become the most painful. Over time, you may even begin to feel like it's not even worth getting into it because it hurts too much: "Let's just keep it safe and numb." It's not too intimate, it's not too fulfilling, but at least it's better than feeling that kind of pain. Or, in some extremes, leading parallel lives where the people are there together in body, but not really in spirit, which is not really very fulfilling.
It doesn't just stop there. Relationships are also about balancing and sharing power. When one person feels attacked or judged, he or she feels disempowered and perceives a power imbalance. One person feels one-up, and the other feels one-down. When that happens, the person feeling disempowered usually finds a way to reempower himself or herself. This can play out in a number of different ways.Maybe the next time you want to have sex, the other person will not be interested. Or maybe the next time you want to go somewhere, the other person doesn't want to go. Maybe that per son won't even tell you the real reason. It's just, "Oh, I don't feel good tonight, honey." Or "I don't really want to go there" or "I'm really busy. I need to work late at the office tonight." When a person feels criticized, it makes it difficult for him or her to give you what you want, even if the person would otherwise want to do so.Find out more about this book: Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and HealthThat is the dilemma. You can't really be in an intimate relationship without being vulnerable, but when you feel attacked, the last thing you want to do is to make yourself vulnerable. When you feel judged or criticized or attacked, you stop... More