By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
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)
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 Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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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.