My clients often tell me that I ask them to do wacky things in the course of fixing their relationships. They’re not wrong. I can be a little off the wall and irreverent sometimes. Though, to be fair, usually I’m paired up with the right kind of clients for these clinical adventures. Three couples this week told me that they chose me because I included a photo of Falkor in one of my blog posts. (If you don’t know who that is, firstly, shame on you. Secondly, get thee to the library and read The Neverending Story.) These people are definitely my sort!
Much of the time my odd behavior is because I’m a fruitcake who also happened to earn a doctorate. But sometimes, it’s a bit of clinical razzle dazzle to underline the fact that when partners laugh together (at me or with me) they are continuing to reinforce the notion that they enjoy one another. They can, even under the peculiar circumstance of therapy, share an experience that enriches their lives.
One of my greatest pleasures as a therapist is learning about your shared history. I want to know what makes you two different than other couples. I want to know about your strange rituals and commitments. I want to know that because I think that couples need to have a strong sense of their own story. They need to be aware of their common mythology and continue to write it and retell it to themselves every day. Even when the going gets tough, you have reference points living inside that story somewhere that will help us figure out how to pen a happier tomorrow. I’m going straight for them. I want you to as well. But, until you get off of my blog and into my office, here are a few pointers to tide you over:
1) It’s Us Against the World: I’m not overstating it here when I say that I believe a stance of us vs. them is necessary for couples to work. This isn’t aggression–it’s a sort of defensive posture against the many things that conspire to pull couples apart these days. I could name those things for you all afternoon, but chief among my list are 1) work environments that stress anything but quality of life 2)Technology that keeps us connected with people we darn well know we ought not to be talking to outside of our spouses’ knowledge 3) Family of origin stressors. It’s important for partners to feel as though they are one another’s first, best and most loyal resource. This might sound revolutionary (or perhaps antiquated, depending on your viewpoint) but it’s absolutely necessary for relationship longevity.
2) Noting Your Cycles: Every couple on this green earth has a way of fighting to avoid addressing the topic at hand. Really stuck couples have intuitively sorted out that they are not making progress on the tough stuff and have resorted instead to fighting about fighting. You’ll recognize these conversations because they contain phrases like, “you always” and “you never.” One of the more difficult shifts for me to help couples make in therapy is the vulnerable move from fighting about the fighting to fighting about the actual issues. Typically, they resist that at first, just the way you’ll exhaust a good leg to avoid putting weight on the one that hurts. Physical therapists will tell you that sometimes you have to work into that pain to make changes. This is exactly like that.
3) Narnia this Way: Creating a microculture in your own marriage that insulates you from the outside world is not only essential, it’s a joy. When you make a joke, find a way to make it a recurring inside joke. When you listen to a song you both like, text your spouse every time you hear it somewhere. Deliberately write the story of the two of you in such a way that nobody else could possibly understand how to really get there but the two of you.
Are you ready to increase the joy in your partnership? I’m ready to help. Why don’t you come on in so that we can get started?
Your Partner in Healing,
Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at email@example.com. Visit me on the web at www.lotustherapycenter.com or:
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