Love is the stuff of nations clashing (see the story of the Trojan Horse), Gods falling from grace, kings giving up thrones. Our theatres, movies, novels – , our arts in other words, are filled with this theme, as are our minds and our hearts, and it is used as a commodity to sell products. And it comes with the promise that with love comes riches, good looks and mind-blowing sex really! It is a lot to ask of ourselves and of another to live up to expectations of that sort. But that is what many of us do.
One of my favorite lines of Garrison Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion fame, is: getting married for sex is like flying the Concord for a bag of peanuts. Many I know are in love with the infatuation and completely unprepared for the day to day realities of living with another human being – where opposite or same sex partner. With these kinds of expectations when entering a relationship it is no wonder that many flame and sizzle fast and then …No one or no couple can live up to thises kinds of expectations, yet we do and that can become a problem. For when disappointment shows it’s head we want to find someone to blame or to fix. It has to be either us or them.
We all enter relationships with ideas in mind of what they are supposed to be like, this is the way we are built. However, if we were never given a road map, or a map that led us to where we wanted to go. (What did you learn from your parents and other family members about healthy coupling?) Often, in our attempts for greater intimacy we build, as John and Julie Gottman say, “walls rather than windows”. We don’t learn how to navigate the frustrations and disappointments, we become afraid of conflict or we are afraid of too little conflict, depending upon our backgrounds. The windows let our partners in and ourselves out and it fosters true intimacy.
Ellyn Bader, PHD, a couple’s therapist in the Bay Area says that relationships take courage. It is risky to be oneself and let who we are be witnessed by another. David Schnarch in his book: Passionate Marriage talks of the need for each person to have a strong sense of individual identity, without which a partnership cannot evolve or thrive.
Pieces missing from couple heath are what prompt one or both partners in a coupleship to seek counseling. I am trained in the Gottman Method of Couple’s therapy which is built upon the results of years of research observing what makes marriage work.
Some of the key elements of thriving relationships, according to the Gottmans, is commitment, trust, friendship, conflict management and making life dreams come true. If you don’t have these elements active in your relationship you may be among many in this country who are thinking of ending a relationship as a solution to a sense of dissatisfaction, loneliness or more. Learning new ways of listening, speaking and interacting can help turn the tide in a positive direction of your partnership. Couples counseling has helped many, many people obtain the love and fulfillment they long for and seek.
For more information on the Gottmans and other highly effective couple’s therapists, information, resources and weekend workshops click on some of the more well-known one’s below.
John and Julie Gottman – The Art and Science of Love www.gottman.com
Harville Hendrix – Getting The Love you Want www.gettingtheloveyouwant.com
Dan Wile – Collaborative Couple Therapy www.danwile.com
David Schnarch, Couples Enrichment Weekend www.crucibletherapy.com
Dr. Harley on line workbooks and telephone consultations www.marriagebuilders.com
Dr’s Bader and Pearson, online resources and videos www.couplesinstitute.com