My challenge to couples is to work on understanding these urges to protect themselves and how these urges can impede our ability to actually hear what our partner is saying. Your partner might be telling you that they’re scared or that they’re confused or that they’re lonely. They may not tell you that directly; it might be packaged in a way that feels emotional or intense, but the message is there nonetheless. However they tell you, though, our conversations will be more effective when we learn to moderate that inclination to step back and defend.
What if framing the high divorce rates as a problem with individual people is, in fact, part of the problem itself? What is the divorce rate has far less to do with anything going on inside of us as individuals than we’ve been told? What would that mean? First, it would probably mean that people could be freed from the sense of guilt and failure that often co-occurs with the decision to divorce. It means that there would be less blame to be used as ammunition. It would also mean that we would need to come up with a new, more complex explanation as to what’s happening. We might even have to admit that marriage as we have designed it, is nearly impossible.
Sometimes, we just feel silly. If you're reading this, chances are your a fully (or mostly) grown adult, but we often find ourselves giggling or feeling playful. We might crack up at some low-brow humor. And silliness can show up in other ways, too. We might try to figure out why we got so upset at something that is so seemingly insignificant. Why is whatever happened such a big deal to us? Whether we're getting irrationally upset or we just feel like dancing, it can feel like there's a younger part of us that temporarily takes over.
When I work with couples, they often ask me, "What do you think? How is our relationship doing?" It's one thing to offer my opinion in response to those questions, but that's just one perspective. So, at Yetman Counseling Services, we've recently developed something to help answer those questions. We're calling it The Relationship Review.
It's important to start our relationships on a foundation of understanding. Understanding flows from a place of interest and curiosity. If you've ever said about your partner that you know everything there is to know about them, then it's time to take a step back. People are fluid and dynamic and ever-changing. When we say things like this, it often means we've got blinders on and are at risk of missing something important. Premarital counseling helps you become curious about each other and to avoid these sorts of dangers in your relationship.
As a therapist, I find inner conflict incredibly interesting. This is partly true because I often practice a type of therapy that isn’t very far removed from this very idea. No, we don’t speak about angels and demons on your shoulders, but we do recognize that we often have these inner dialogues and debates. Even if you’ve never said, “I’m on two minds” about something, you might have recognized that “There’s a part of me that wants to say yes, and another that wants to say no.” What are these parts? Why are they so conflicted? How can we get them to come to a resolution? When you can’t come to a resolution, which part wins?
“Every hour that we are awake, we are told twenty-two times that we are not rich, thin, young, beautiful, ripped, or stylish enough.” When I first came across this quote in the book Healing Spiritual Wounds, I had one of those Wait! What? moments. There was something altogether unbelievable about what I had just read. The idea that we are riddled with advertising and messages in an attempt to get us to buy another product wasn’t new - if anything, twenty-two messages seemed a little low. My pause for reflection was about what those messages say to us about us.
Faith is an important element of many people’s story. Whether you were raised in attending church or in a home that was more secular, our histories often contain elements of faith or spirituality, even if those definitions vary wildly from family to family. For some, spirituality speaks to the sense that we are all connected and that there is an energy – some would say a divine energy – that flows through all of the natural world. For others, the idea of faith evokes images of an old man in the sky character who is wholly responsible for creation and punishes those that would defy him.
As a couples therapist, I often have couples that tell me how much their phone is interfering with their lives and their relationship. When they reunite after a day at work, couples say that their phones serve as an all-too-easy distraction that reduces the quality of their time together. It can keep them from having important conversation. It can keep their mind partially at the office instead of being fully present at home. It’s a real problem – we’ve talked about it a previous blog post, too.