In providing couple therapy, it’s a big dilemma for me to reconcile two principles I hold:
- to uphold client autonomy if one person in a couple wants to separate.
- to hold out further support to heal any fractures in their relationship.
Often, couples show up to relationship therapy when the situation has worsened to quite desperate levels. Sometimes one person is really hanging on and wanting the relationship to continue; whereas the other person seems weary as if they have already checked out emotionally.
Being an optimistic person, I always offer hope: that even deep wounds can be healed with time and encouragement and effort to regain the love that’s often so woundingly been lost.
Realistically, for this to happen, both people in the couple need to bring the following qualities and attitudes to the forefront:
- recognise the other person is different and lives in a different perceptual world
- accept their own part in what has been co-created as a pattern or dynamic between them (even though it’s tempting to blame the other person 100%)
- commit to being present without blame, shame, criticism or judgement of their partner
- manage their own reactivity / resentment / hurt / anger
- realise that conflict is growth trying to happen
- strive for zero negativity in order to create emotional safety and connection
Phew! That’s a big ask. It’s a tall order, especially when the going is really tough.
The good news is that Imago couple coaching can work wonders through using these principles to create a safe space where each person can be heard and respected, no matter what.
That’s why I’m so keen on the Imago approach.