Tag: couples therapy

Happy couple looking out at the water

Relationships: Hard Work or Adventure?

Successful relationships are a Work in Progress

Has your relationship become stale or filled with constant conflict? It’s probably because it’s stopped growing.

Do you even look at your partner anymore? Or if you do is it only when you’re mad? Relationships stop growing when we think we know everything there is to know about ourselves and our partner. If you’re feeling bored, lonely or frustrated in your relationship then it’s an indication that growth and progress has stopped.

Let’s change the word ‘work’ to Adventure and Curiousity.

The truth is, you don’t know everything about yourself, so how could you know everything about your partner. They probably don’t understand themselves fully either. Few people do. And when you’re truly okay with that it can become exciting and an adventure to find out more.

Why would I want to? I can hear you thinking….

Because thinking you know everything feels safe..Yes safe can be good… except that to make a relationship safe you have to make it fit into a box. It’s safe from change but it’s also limited from growth. Feeling safe is enticing until it becomes boring, suffocating and lonely.

Being Curious means actively learning to understand yourself and that is called Differentiation.

Differentiation in simple terms means being okay to be different and letting others/your partner be different as well.

Here’s an interview with a couples therapist Ellyn Bader talking about Differentiation in Relationships.

I think a lot of partners have the misperception that they’ll lose their relationship if they differentiate. There is a fear of really showing yourself as deeply, as broadly and as expansively as you might.

Defining Differentiation in Couple Relationships

I define differentiation as the active ongoing process of a person being able to define their thoughts, their feelings, their wishes and their desires to one another and to be able to tolerate the partner doing the same thing.
When people are afraid of differentiating, they are afraid if they show their authentic self and the other one doesn’t like it or doesn’t agree with it, that they’re going to end up in a big fight or they’re going to end up with the other person leaving. When that’s true, they don’t show themselves very well to each other.

Why Relationships Fail

When you look at why relationships fail over the course of time, one of the core reasons that relationships fail is due to a lack of differentiation. Without differentiation, relationships get stale. Interactions become repetitive and partners end up bored or lonely. They end up bored because the relationship isn’t growing and it isn’t changing, or they end up just competing with each other and being really angry and really nasty to each other. That’s one of the reasons that relationships fail.
Another reason is the re-triggering of old trauma. Partners over time trigger and re-stimulate either old trauma in each other or also they do hurtful things in the here and now to each other that can be very traumatic. Either way, with the lack of differentiation or with trauma, people need skills and capacities in order to manage themselves well in a primary relationship.

The most stuck relationships are those where each person wants to keep the other unchanging. They remember how they were when they met and they want that to last forever.
Then they don’t explore or push each other to grow. They don’t take risks or try new things. It becomes a very, very narrow way of living in the world.

Differentiation is the route to aliveness and expansiveness, to authenticity and vulnerability, and resolving conflicts and handling not liking each other at times.

Most of us have learned to define ourselves in terms of what we do and spend little time understanding our inner workings.

If you’d like more aliveness in your life whether you’re in a relationship or not find a way to challenge your norms. Start questioning your default behaviour and try doing something different. Look at your partner with different eyes as if you’ve never seen them before.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Or check out some of my other blogs with tips and suggestions.

Excerpt taken from The Couples Institute Blog Differentiation Blog by Ellyn Bader

Relationship Stress. Communication and Anger Management

Thinking of leaving your relationship? Read this…

Relationship stress is hard

But that daily relationship stress is nothing compared to the pain and changes you’ll go through with divorce or separation. It’s a misinterpretation to think divorce is easy judging by the rising rates. You’d think it’s as simple as finding the best recycling for an old car stereo or laptop. No!! It’s not!! Not for a lot of people.

Where did we get the idea that relationships are disposable?

(Stay tuned for the new blog)

So if you’re thinking of leaving your relationship or marriage this article will help.
Learning about all the pain, changes and, thankfully, eventual growth that you can go through with divorce and separation will leave you better prepared to take that step.

Note: there is one swear word at the beginning of the article. If the word offends you please blink quickly and continue reading.

What Nobody Tells you about Leaving your Spouse.

Express Emotions Responsibly

What good are our emotions anyway.. do we really need them?

Emotions feel out of control
Use emotions with control to feel happier

Do you wish you could get rid of your emotions?

It does seem as if life would be easier without emotions sometimes. They make life messy and out of control when often we prefer tidy and controlled.

Of course it’s not that simple…. Getting rid of ‘negative’ emotions means giving up the ‘positive’ aspects as well.. they’re connected. You know how close laughing and crying can be?… it’s a very fine line. One second you’re laughing and the next you’re crying or better yet the other way around. It’s how we’re wired. You can’t have one without the other.

If you’re interested in finding out about the body’s reaction to emotions the late Candace Pert did a lot of research and wrote a book The Molecules of Emotions. Candacepert.com Her research is also featured in the movie ‘What the Bleep Do we Know’

Are you willing to give up your joy and passion to get rid of anger and sadness?

A lot of times in my clients first sessions they apologize for crying and I can see them trying to ‘compose’ themselves and hold back the tears. It looks so difficult. There’s nothing wrong with crying. It’s a release of pressure like laughing can be and it’s a connection to a deeper sense of yourself. From there we can explore how they control themselves and they gain awareness of conscious or sub conscious beliefs they have about emotional expression. It’s a good start.

It’s not about getting rid of emotions but expressing them responsibly

Letting our emotions release brings a sense of relief and hope. Like revealing a secret we didn’t know we were holding onto for a long time. Because the other option is expending a lot of energy to control them and hold them in. (people wonder why they’re so tired) It can feel a bit scary as if they’ll never stop because if you’ve held tears in for so long the pressure has built up like a water toy being held under water. If you hold it under lightly it just bobs up to the surface when you let it go. No big deal. If you push it down deeper and keep pushing it explodes out of the water when you let it go. ERUPTION. Just like emotions. And usually not at appropriate times.

The urge to distract and hide emotions

Where do you think your emotions go when you push them away? It seems like they disappear for the moment but they don’t. And then you experience those moments when you’re overreacting to a situation. Or maybe you find you’re upsetting the people close to you because your anger is leaking out indirectly as passive aggressive behaviour. The common belief there is that expressing anger is bad and so you project your anger onto others. You can read more about that here.

 

So yes we really need our emotions, we couldn’t get rid of them if we wanted to although we still try. They are our bodies signals to us that something important is going on and it needs some attention. So show yourself some self compassion because opening to and sitting with your emotions can unravel to reveal love. A love for yourself and others. A love that’s been mistakenly obscured by fear.

Call or email me to find out more or to book a session.

Happy couple looking out at the water

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