Working With Couples

Too much serious talk is bad for most distressed relationships It is easy to reproduce in a therapist’s office the very same stalemates that a couple has been stuck on at home. And the result in a therapist’s office is the same—frustration! Why pay for that?

Love requires conflict. If our partners were everything we wanted them to be, no love would be required. Reaching out, acceptance, appreciation and other loving virtues would be unnecessary. Attraction would wither, and good sex, which is based on differences, would be non-existent.

But conflict is not enough. To achieve a stronger and more exciting relationship, conflict must be pursued with both compassion and passion. Too often we stick to positions of what we believe is right and wrong, and try to get the other person to agree. Love, however, is outside the categories of right and wrong.

Not all conflicts are meant to be solved. Some conflicts will last the entire relationship, but whether these conflicts add flavor, or drain energy is up to the participants. When we remember how to play with, and enjoy each other again, many conflicts seem to solve themselves.

When I work with couples, I’m not focused most on hammering out compromises, but rather in sparking and renewing healthy playful connections that provide energy and delight. On that foundation, logic and responsibility usually take care of themselves. The goal of couple work, however, is for the couple to experience a different type of “together” than has been bogging them down.

Love is tricky. Niceness is no real substitute. For many human dilemmas, though, love is all we have and all we ever have had.