Couples and partners sessions
“There is nothing in this world more difficult
than another person”
– Buddhist Monk.
“We were able to walk on the same side of the street when we left, and that's good.”
– A person I worked with.
“If we could tell each other what annoys us in a different way, we wouldn't have any problems.”
If it's true that 69% of couples problems are not resolvable (according to Dr. John Gottman),
you want to find a way to reckon with that and be with that.
You don't want to struggle over that;
you want to find a way to connect with caring around that.
In a nutshell, here are my pie-in-the-sky goals for couples:
- To be able to say what's true, and to stay connected in a caring way.
- To be able to really be yourself, and at the same time, to be able to let the other person be him or herself, and staying compassionately connected in some way through whatever comes up.
- The best you can do is share your experience w/o expecting the other to change, and to listen w/o trying to fix things.
- To share or to listen w/o struggling to change the other person or his or her experience.
And here is what we might do during a session:
- Have a mediated discussion
- Slow down discussion and keep reactivity in check
- Interrupt and steer discussions away from endless circles or unproductive patterns
- Identify and nurture positives in the relationship
- Learn how your reactions to each other are understandable and not uncommon
- Offer observations, perspective, and feedback from a neutral perspective
- Take turns speaking and listening
- Learn to listen to your partner's words and really hear the underlying feelings, needs and desires
- Facilitate understanding of each other's experience
- Identify each other's feelings and needs
- Practice empathic connection
- Doubling, which means to speak on your behalf when you don't have the words
- Learn how to ask for what you want and negotiate together
- Strategize together on solutions
- Puzzle over approaches to parenting
- Learn more effective ways to communicate together
- Learn different ways to give to each other
- Brokerage apologies and forgiveness
- Have a "fun" argument
- Learn ways to take a break when things get heated
- Learn how to shift the focus (and any blaming thoughts) away from your partner and focus on and take care of yourself
- Learn how to take things less personally
- Increase awareness of what goes on when you are triggered, and learn how to better manage your reactions