Couples Therapy

Which of these statements is most true for you:

“My husband/wife is my best friend. I can depend on h/him to see my side whether s/he agrees or not.”

“Our experiences of closeness are filled with an excitement of sharing, pleasure and adventure.”

“We use our differences to our best advantage.”

If these statements are not your story, they could be. There are new avenues to connection, fun and passion even in a lifestyle crammed with demands and responsibilities.

Learning to love and loving to learn about your marriage is a gift that you can give yourselves and each other.  Marriage can be a joy, and it is also a skill.  Modern marriage partners want to include romance, affection, sexuality and fun, as well as security, economic advantage, and child-rearing.  Marriage today is more than the functional, political and economic arrangement it once was.  And, judging by the divorce rate, it’s often not as successful as we hope when we enter it.

According to the Washington Post magazine of June 27, 2010, “More than 40 percent of first marriages end in divorce.  The divorce rate for second marriages is above 60 percent, and it’s higher than 70 percent for folks making their third walk down the aisle.”

Everyone wants to get married, but disappointments soon ensue and the frequent decisions about the problems are  “I got married for the wrong reasons,”  or “I married the wrong person,”  or I’m not in love with him or her anymore.”  The reality is that we unconsciously marry our opposite, the person who appears to be “wrong” for us, but the one we most need.  It is the partner who will encourage us to grow, stretch, become more emotionally mature.  And of course, opposites conflict, so there will be conflict.

The art of marriage, is knowing that we share a field of interactions with another person, that we are both a part of that field.  Like positive and negative electrons, we are affected by the field itself, pulled and pushed away by our energies, desires and needs.   Understanding the particular kind of  field we’re in together requires developing empathy for our own and our partner’s frustrations, learning how to talk, how to listen and how to grow together.

Arlene Kahn draws from numerous sources, including the wisdom of current thinking on marriage.  Following, are some resources for lay people and for professionals:

1.  Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, a professional book, discusses the importance of attachment issues between couples.

2.  Harville Hendrix’s  book, Getting The Love You Want, a popular self-help book, shows the unseen factors that bring people together, and provides a dialogue format to help people listen and talk openly, with caring.

3.  John Gottman has a Love Lab where he does research in Seattle.  He says he can predict within 15 minutes of watching couples dialogue, who is likely to get divorced and who is not.  Results are discussed in his popular book Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.”

4.  Arlene Kahn also draws from a historical view in the work of Louis D’Rougement Love in the Western World and a biological-evolutionary perspective in Helen Fisher’s book Anatomy of Love.

5.  Nathan Schwartz-Salant in his book The Mystery of Human Relationship,  speaks to the interesting idea that every relationship creates a field of interactions and that we experience the pulls of the field itself in our struggles to relate.  Understanding the kind of field we’re in, enlightens our relationship.

Often, our efforts to understand our intimate relationships result in blame, accusations,  and other negative emotions.  What we seldom realize, is that  these states are all clues to our needs, our insights, and  hidden strengths.  These approaches can be transformed into understanding, empathy, relatedness and joy.   To experience your relationship in a new way,  you are welcome to call me and learn more.

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