We heard in a popular song recently the poignant lines —
I feel so lonely it’s almost as if you were here
...and were reminded how lonely it is to be part of a couple whose relationship has deteriorated into two camps, is full of conflict, or is just in a grey kind of auto-drive. Lonely and mystifying.
“Look, it’s simple,” one partner says. “If you changed (did more x, stopped doing y), I’d be happy. If you won’t change then it’s clear you don’t love me.”
Trouble is, that’s not the reason at all. It’s an axiom of conflict resolution that to oppose a thing is to maintain it. Since most of us react to that disturbing lack of change in our partners by pressing even harder for it, what we’re really doing is reducing our behaviours down to the one that doesn’t work – down to the one, in fact, most likely to reinforce the “bad” behaviour.
The majority of the couples we see are just about ready to replace the “blame and change” game (i.e. working on the other person) for something quite radical but much more effective: working on self-in-relationship.
This is not to say that we have to assume all blame and to
compromise important parts of ourselves in the service of our
relationship. David Schnarch, researcher and author, whose work is
regarded as the most sophisticated integration of sexuality,
intimacy, personal growth and couples therapy available today,
writes from a systems perspective. He says that “giving up your
individuality to be together is as defeating in the long run as
giving up your relationship to maintain your individuality.”
Schnarch looked for ways of staying together that would allow people to stay together and yet remain fully individual. At Fresh Perspectives you’ll find Susan and Tony do the same. And you’ll also find that they:
Most couples only have one go at couples counselling. If you don’t find an experienced and highly trained therapist at first, it could happen that, after only one or two sessions, one of you might feel that the process is biased. Sometimes one person will say, “I told you counselling wouldn’t work,” and just refuse to return.
To make sure that you leave your first couples therapy session confident you’re doing the right thing and expecting good outcomes, choose !
DON'T FORGET... If you’re despairing because your relationship’s in trouble and your partner:
...there’s hope — Fresh Perspectives has developed an innovative approach:
Couples Therapy for One