Couple relationships can be challenging.
Joseph Campbell, the 20th century mythologist, said that marriage is an ordeal. Campbell says the individual must die to himself to become one part of a larger unit in marriage.
A blog post, “Nine Psychological Tasks for a Good Marriage,” on the American Psychological Association website offers quotes from Judith Wallerstein’s book, “The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts.” The first three tasks mentioned relate to separating from the family of origin and creating a bond in marriage.
John Gottman, who has the “Love Lab” where he undertakes couples research, has a quiz on his website to help individuals see how well they know their partner. Gottman’s book, “ 7 Principles for Making Your Marriage Work” is routinely recommended by some therapists.
His “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” are standard fare for people who want to improve their communications. They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. Antidotes are complaining without blame, building a culture of appreciation and respect, accepting responsibility, and practicing physiological self-smoothing.
My approach to couple relationships
When helping couples learn to hear and validate each other in a healing way, I like to use a communication technique that appears on the surface to be simple. However, when hurts and issues have been smoldering and stifled for months, years, or decades, it can be challenging.
This technique involves identifying feelings, behaviors, and desired outcomes around an issue, stating those to the partner, and listening as the partner paraphrases what was heard. Remarkable healing and mutual understanding have emerged.
It is rewarding to hear couples peel off problems until they rediscover their love for each other.
Photo credits: Nick Fuentes via I’m Free