Couples Therapy is Like Relationship Fitness
Jose and Erica are professionals with a busy life. They come from two different worlds, Jose from Mexico and Erica from New York. They have been married for 18 years. Their marriage is working like a well-lubricated machine. Their children, Elena 16 and Robert 13 are growing up too fast, spending a lot of time by themselves after school like latch-key children. When Jose and Erica arrive home at different times, often occupied with after-hours meetings, their kids are often out. Jose and Erica live their lives together according to a formula which maintains a sense of civility. They can go on like that, they say, but the sense of contact and encounter is missing, They fear the temptation to stray into forbidden avenues to escape the boredom.
There is no emergency yet, the couple said, but they sought some help in getting their feelings aligned.
Have You Lost the Sense of Adventure?
The trouble with marriage is that married people sometimes lose the sense of adventure that they had when they first met. Human beings are complicated, but with familiarity the sense of mystery which drives people to get deeper and deeper into each other's lives, the drive, the challenge is missing. It's not that they don't know each other well enough and don't basically care for each other. It is the force of their affinity for each other, the binding adhesion, that drives them to mend their relationship. It's that their interactions become so formulaic that they are left feeling empty.
Many therapies focus on calming noisy and disagreeable marriages. These may the norm for therapy. A lot has been written about them. Lack of confrontation, too quiet a marriage is also a profound marital problem.
After living quietly and harmoniously together for 20 years, Gwen and John suddenly, to everyone's shock and dismay, decided to get a mutually consensual divorce.
Ideally, intimate human contact is encountered. Encounters are never predictable, but well up from the wit, the drive, the inhibition and fear that make life original, or in existential terms, authentic. Sometimes the best therapy is to look for secrets and hint at them and start an inquiry with your spouse.
Marital Growth Involves Two Factors
All stages of marital growth involve two factors:
- A safe environment with no limitations that make change impossible.
- The need to change. A situation when the status quo is indefensible.
This is true of human development in childhood as well as growth in marriage. Pure harmony and civility may not be enough for all marriages. Rehearsal and established patterns may be insufficient for restless people. A relationship where every action is governed by habit and rules may seem like a prison. Freedom means individual choice and the liberty of the moment. Couples therapy often provides the kind of environment that buffers and protects a couple from external danger in situations where they have to change.
- Couples counseling can help marriages gauge and moderate the expectations that people have of each other. If expectations about the behavior of a partner are too high or based on false patterns of loyalty (such as in a conspiracy) the relationship can be reduced to a kind of slavery. Behavior continuously bound by a partner's expectations can reduce a sense of personal freedom and responsibility.
- Couples counseling can help couples develop habits of truly listening and hearing truths revealed by their partners, without inhibitive reaction. A partner's authentic nature is revealed in their ability to express themselves and share what they feel without fear.
- Couples counseling can help people in an intimate relationship start from a foundation of basic trust, and discover their partner anew and afresh every day, as more and more of themselves and the strange paths they walk, are revealed without inhibition.
I can help you if you long for connection with your partner, if you feel isolated in your marriage, or you have lost trust in your partner. Please contact me to learn more.