“Compatibility is an achievement of love, it isn’t its precondition. The person who is right isn’t the person who agrees with every aspect of our character. It’s someone who negotiates the differences between two people in a particular way, with a particular generosity and humour.” Alain de Botton
I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I have about couples therapy. The quote above is from a talk On Love by Alain de Botton. I have put the YouTube link below. Alain gives a very honest and insightful talk about expectations versus the realities of love. It is presented in a very humorous way but don’t let that distract from the importance of his insights. I have put a quote above from this talk which I think every couple can benefit from being aware of. The majority of the work in couples therapy assists couples in how they negotiate their differences. Not what the differences are. And there will be differences, these are not a bad thing. In couples there needs to be enough similarity for support and comfort and enough difference for interest and excitement.
Often differences can feel threatening to a relationship and when we feel threatened we can resort to behaviours such as criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. The relationship expert John Gottman refers to these as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. These behaviours can be very damaging to a relationship. Couples therapy can teach you healthier and more effective ways to communicate with each other.
Often couples come to therapy with the expectation that the therapist will change the other person in the relationship. My job as a couples therapist is help each person become aware of their part of the difficulty, to foster awareness and for each party to take full responsibility for themselves. This can often open up choices and options not considered previously.
I do not have a preferred outcome in my couples work. Thus my work is non directional. Sometimes the best outcome is for a couple to stay together and sometimes the best outcome is to separate. You do not need to be at a decision point to come to therapy. Often people come to help their communication skills or come in the early stages of a relationship to help find effective ways to manage difficulties when they do arise.
Relationships are both wonderful and complex. I once heard someone being interviewed who said “couples therapy did not stop us arguing however it really helped us to argue in a much better way”. And to finish, back to Alain de Botton…..”compatibility is an achievement of love”, to achieve this it sometimes requires a different approach and some extra help. Couples therapy is a place where you can work on this with a trained professional.
You can contact me on 086 3893745 if you would like more information about couples therapy.