We can’t be a relationship site doing two whole weeks on the topic of therapy and not talk about couples counseling. Obviously we strongly believe in its significance and, if you have made it into the door of the therapist, you have made a strong declarative statement that you value your relationship. We have done a lot of work on our marriage but, the funny thing is, we never done it as a couple.
Paul says: If, by this point, you have not figured out that Lee and I have done a lot of therapy then you’re not very bright. Sorry but it’s true. Most of the work that we have done is in a group milieu which means that we get to hear the reasons that others were in there with us. My person favorite reason: ‘I’m here for my wife’. When the guy said that, standing with his arms crossed and oozing arrogance, some of us groaned, some laughed but all of us knew how wrong that statement was.
There is a standing rule in the therapy world: the only person that you can fix is yourself. That is why Lee and I say that we have worked on our marriage individually as a couple. We work hard on ourselves, knowing that we are becoming the best people we can be. So we cry and rage and examine our lives and, in the end, we come out with new insights.
But then what? What happens when you go home with this new outlook on life and meet up with your significant other and their new outlook? One of the fallacies of relationship is that communication is the end all and be all of bliss together. Yes it is important but what is being communicated is more important. Let’s be real, honestly communicating ‘I hate you bitch’ is not going to strengthen the relationship, no matter how heartfelt it is.
The stuff that Lee and I are doing now is very Jungian in its foundation so there is a lot of metaphor dealing with our archetypes and shadows and the wounds of our inner child. We come out of one of our weekends of therapy after finding out that my shadow, that is the dark part of me that I am not proud of and that comes out during certain times of stress, wants to kill people and Lee’s just wants to be invisible. What do we do with this information? The worst case scenario is that my shadow goes hunting and hers makes her disappear. Obviously not conducive to a happy marriage.
This is the part where healthy communication comes into play. We talk about our shadows (or whatever new self-perception come up) as they apply to ourselves as married people. Or in other words, ‘sometimes I want to go shotgun-in-a-bell-tower on someone’s ass and this is how it applies to me as a husband’. Yes, dinner conversation at the Reyes-Fournier house is always lively.
Lee says: I think it is more instructive to say that honest, constructive, emotionally centered communication is a key to a healthier relationship. Knowing each others hot topics and buttons is crucial. Not for arguing as ammunition (you thought it, don’t deny it) but to know the instructions or the schematics of your partners. Those topics are the issues they should work on in therapy.
Let’s face it people, if you mention things in arguments as a way to gain advantage over your partner, you two are truly screwed. Arguing and conflict should be used as a means to building a healthier bond not a battlefield exercise to win a game. Healthy communication includes talking, sharing and arguing. It is when we are disrespectful, calculating or physical that arguments are unhealthy. And, for those couples who don’t know how to argue, this would be a great reason to visit a therapist.
I had a professor many years back tell his class that arguments should be the grounds where couples should take quantum leaps to health. I think this guy smoked pot between classes but the thought was sound. Unfortunately, most people learn their fighting styles from Mom and Dad. My Mom and Dad would have scared the shit out of Mike Tyson.