Patterns in Partnerships
There is a widely shared misconception that one has to “have it all together” before they can be in a “healthy” relationship—that somehow you should be happy with yourself before seeking a partner. The truth is: None of us has it all together! We are all learning and growing and awakening. There is no consciousness destination at which one arrives and then is prepared to be an adult in the world.
When we expect ourselves to be perfect before we are worthy of love, we usually project that expectation onto our partners, or potential partners, as well. This can make finding and/or staying in an intimate relationship very difficult.
No one enters any relationship “baggage free,” but the more you understand what you are bringing into a partnership, the more available and empathic you can be toward the other person. The good news is that, in a supportive relationship, you can develop as an individual, as well as a partner. It is not uncommon for individuals to grow more in couples therapy than in their own personal therapy.
Sometimes two people connect easily and are instinctively able to help one another grow. But that’s not always the case, and oftentimes our own wounds or scars get in the way of us being as loving, compassionate, or understanding as we would like to be. Our history can also make it very challenging to show the truth of who we are to our partners.
In cases like this, couples work can help. Each partner has an opportunity to learn about where and how they are stuck, how they are hiding or withholding, and how they hurt rather than help nurture the relationship. It is often surprising for couples to learn that it was their healthy instincts that attracted them each to a partner with the power to both wound and help heal.
Painful patterns may be an indication that patterns of relating (likely learned in childhood) are now obsolete. Ultimately, both members of the couple learn how to transform these patterns. It does take two to tango, and in productive couples work, both partners must have a willingness to do their part to make things better.
Of course, there are times when couples work helps one or both partners to understand more clearly that the relationship isn’t going to last. While this is sad, there is often also joy as both members of the couple come to terms with what is true as a result of learning to see and hear each other.
I try to be as active as necessary in moving things along. I observe closely, sense where things get stuck or derailed. I encourage partners to talk to each other, rather than at each other. I will interrupt as I don’t want couples to waste valuable time in the office re-enacting destructive arguments and patterns; I want you to start practicing positive, mature behaviors as soon as possible. By initiating changes that work, you can experience relationships that will exceed your highest expectations.
Thank you for your interest in my work. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 415-729-5226.
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