Creating something of beauty and high integrity requires work.
When I’m not “in session” with therapeutic couples work, I sometimes like to create long, flowing beaded angel-wing earrings. Even though sorting tiny objects legitimately interests me, and I know I’ll be proud of the ultimate outcome, these projects can get a bit tedious at points. An hour and a half into a pair of earrings, I might have only 6 rows strung.
This process requires commitment and faith – but I like knowing that I’m creating something with integrity that will hold up. The more tightly and precisely I weave together the beads, the better the outcome.
Couples work can be a bit like that. Intimate relationships present unique opportunities for individuals to experience healing, personal growth, and — ultimately — transformation. The importance of cultivating a strong emotional connection with one’s partner cannot be overstated.Hard work at times, but when we commit to doing the work with integrity and persistence, we eventually enjoy beautiful outcomes.
A SOLID RELATIONSHIP EMBRACES OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW TOGETHER
Popular culture often suggests that the purpose of a relationship is happiness or fulfillment. Those certainly can be major benefits of coupling up. But it’s not the whole story.
On a soul level, relationships serve as a mirror, reflecting our deepest fears, desires, and insecurities. These close relationships become a constant negotiation between our needs for safety and security and our desires for freedom, novelty, and adventure.
WE FORGE NEW PATTERNS & REFRESH FAMILY DYNAMICS
Couples work emphasizes the importance of communication, vulnerability, and mutual understanding as each individual works to prioritize the relationship. It also helps us continue our own “work” that inevitably we have to do to heal past wounds and whatever is arising in the moment.
Healthy relationships are built on foundations of trust, where there is a safe emotional space for both partners to explore their feelings, thoughts, and experiences. While conflict can feel scary, when we learn to embrace challenges arising in intimate relationships as opportunities for growth. [Read about my “Rupture and Repair” methodology for further details.]
WE SEEK TO CREATE SECURE FUNCTIONING
Key principles and techniques used in my practice to help couples build secure-functioning relationships include:
- active listening – prioritizing understanding over reply.
- attachment theory – embracing their tendencies and work with them.
- emotional regulation – seeking out healthy responses to big feelings.
- emotional validation – accepting the other person’s experience (rather than ignoring, judging or denying).
- shared empathy – developing a capacity to sense and feel the other’s tender areas.
All of these aspects of relationships that require accepting your partner’s feelings without judgment, criticism, or blame. A therapy-informed coach can help us navigate these complexities of intimate relationships and embrace their power to heal.
HEALING HAPPENS WHEN WE’RE WILLING TO SEE “WHAT IS”
The most effective communication strategy for conscious-minded adults is radically honest communication, delivered with empathy. We must have reciprocal communication, including verbal and non-verbal cues. Beyond that, we are called to be present and attentive to one another on a regular basis, witnessing our partners’ core emotions during our own travails.
When both partners share their thoughts and feelings openly, it can cultivate an environment of mutual respect and trust. Couples who establish clear ground rules for how and when to share feelings – yet who stay present to each others’ needs in the moment – find the greatest fulfillment.
A well-trained and experienced relationship guide can escort you to greater ease and effectiveness in communication. This is done by exploring developing shared communication patterns that feel good to each partner in a relationship and by exploring the deeper nuances or themes that emerge when working through differences.
One of the core requirements of working with me is a willingness to “get real.” Conscious couples benefit from my directness about my take on what’s really going on in the relationship.
THEMES TO EXPLORE IN DEPTH
Beyond communication, these are some of the themes we pursue in my office:
- emotional intimacy – closeness, vulnerability, and trust two people share in a relationship
- emotional validation – the process of recognizing, acknowledging, and accepting another person’s feelings, without judgment
- mutual understanding – shared comprehension and empathy, where two people recognize and appreciate the other’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.
- self-awareness – the ability to recognize, understand, and reflect on one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
- sense of individuality – understanding of one’s own unique identity, encompassing personal values, beliefs, interests, and characteristics that set us apart
- shared sense of safety – a mutual feeling of trust, security, and comfort between two people in a relationship
- personal and relational boundaries – the distinction of a person being a bounded, distinct, and separate entity from others, who has limits that can be explicitly shared with others
- vulnerability – the state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked
Talking about each of these concepts in the context of specific issues.
Couples work deepens our appreciation for our own journey through life, as well as that of our partner.
Couples who invest in this work begin to cultivate a deeper connection, improved communication, and greater emotional intimacy.
As with fine-beaded earrings or tightly-woven tapestries, couples who are most willing to sit with discomfort and “do the work” find the results more beautiful than they ever could have envisioned mid-journey.
Want to know more?
If you’re ready to go deeper in partnership, book an appointment with me today.