- At October 23, 2014
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Conflict, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Healing after an Affair, NEW BABY - NEW PARENTS, Relationship physiology
Some interesting thoughts on making a relationship and marriage last in this article in Men’s Health magazine
Worth a look…
We’re increasingly swamped with screens, information, technology and busyness. And with more speed and busyness, its all too easy to lose touch with ourselves and each other. In a very real sense, we were given all this technology without a manual on how to manage the impact on our lives.
Sometimes deep joy and contentment is found more in quiet and still places. The kind of settling down that happens away from screens and technology.
This is a wonderful article and well worth a look….
About 4000 years ago, Lao Tzu spoke about the Law of Reversed Effort. The more we try to push something away, the bigger and more threatening it becomes. This speaks loudly to the experience of Anxiety. The more we try to avoid, duck and push away, the bigger it grows.
This is where Acceptance comes in – Mindful Acceptance is central to Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT)
- At July 08, 2013
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Conflict, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, NEW BABY - NEW PARENTS
Our brains love and crave the familiar.
We so easily slip into automatic pilot, habitual ways of looking and making sense and reacting to our experience. Once in a while, we actually show up to the present … And before we know it, we’ve lived a life and barely shown up for it at all.
- At July 08, 2013
- By Allan
- In Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) in Marriage counseling & couples therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy in couples counseling and marriage therapy, Difficult Emotions, Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with Couples, Empathy and Vulnerability, Relationship physiology
Dan Siegel speaks about the value of Mindfulness practice. A bit like flossing the brain.
Blaming our partners…
So much of the suffering and complaints in relationships are blamefully directed at our partners.
If only he or she were different. If only …then, then things would be perfect.
“Why can’t he ever be on time…it pisses me off?”
“If he just cleaned up after himself.. this relationship would be great”
“I’d be happy if he wasn’t just so chubby” … and the list of complaints goes on.
“I just wish she was more like my last girlfriend …”
Worth a few minutes of listening…
It’s so much easier to believe that we are right – and that our partner is wrong. Indeed, this is the basis for so much struggle in relationship: I’m right (and therefore one up) and you are wrong (and one down). Most of the issues which couples argue over have many perspectives – most issues have many shades of opinion and that evidence can be gathered to support these many different positions on any issue.
The key lies in being able to let go of our attachment “to being right” and opening to listen to the other.
A worthwhile TED talk by Kathryn Schulz …. “On being wrong..”
I invite you to take some time (with your partner or alone) and listen …
I strongly recommend you read Judith Viorst’s “Grown-Up Marriage” (2003) – as a gift to your relationship, yourself and your family .
The book offers a fresh look at way in which the illusions and mirages which we all too easily hold onto shape our expectations – and can get in the way, suffocating our relationship. Letting go of these illusions, we adjust our expectations. Judith Viorst puts it like this:
“But if we imagine that marriage is where we can let it hang out day after day while continuing to excite and delight in each other, we are mistaken. If we imagine that marriage is where we can bitch, burp, snicker and snipe day after day without paying a price, we are wrong. We’re indulging in a fantasy of unearned, effortless love, the love an infant seeks from a perfect mommy. We are indulging in a fantasy that has little to do with love in a grown-up marriage.”
Indeed, deepening friendship and trust takes work – dedicated work over time. In a grown-up marriage, we come to tolerate each other’s limitations and imperfections. We aren’t our partner’s parent, teacher, editor, supervisor or home-improvement project. We don’t always have to be in love with each other – indeed we come to realize that we can’t always be in love with each other. But “a grown up marriage enables us, when we fall out of love with each other, to stick around, until we fall back in”.
Sometimes it can be difficult to go it alone. Nor do you need to. Support and skill-learning can make an enormous differences.
I invite you to check out the resources we have available at the Couples Training Institute, specifically the research-based approaches which are easily learned and practiced over time.
You’ll be glad you did…
I sometimes tell this story in my couples counseling and marriage therapy sessions…
A long time ago, a traveller approached a town. Entering the city gates, he came upon an old woman sitting and patiently watching the world go by. Approaching her, he asked:
” Excuse me, but what kind of people are there in this city?” The old woman looked up at him and replied “And what kind of people lived in the village which you came from, young man?”.
“In the village which I came from … hmmm. There were terrible people, nasty, greedy, selfish and uncaring”.
“Then young man, “replied the old woman, “this is exactly what you will find in this village”.
The following day, another traveller approached the town and asked the old woman the same question. “Tell me, what kind of people live here in this town”. The old woman looked up at him and replied once again: “And what kind of people lived in the village which you came from, young man?”.
“In the village I came from, there are only kind and generous folk – hardworking, considerate and very caring of each other”.
“Then no doubt you’ll find the people of this village to be the same”.
This story strikes a chord for me regarding couple relationships. Have you ever noticed the stories which you carry in your head about your partner? These stories can be powerful and enduring. “He’s always such a slob..”; “She never listens to me”; “Everything has to be her way..”. Most are judgmental. Frequently with generalizing language – terms like “always”, “never” and “everything”. It’s also astounding as to how repetitive these stories can be.
Couples are often astounded when they pay attention to these stories. “I’ve been carrying this one around for years”, said Steve. “I think of Dana a obsessive and selfish and someone who never learned to cook well”.
“And I’ve got two favorites”, commented Dana. “Steve’s never puts the toothpaste cap on the tube and he’s always stubborn like his brother”.
Language is a paintbrush…
We make broad sweeps with our words without even being aware of this. Our language is a lot like a paintbrush: the colors are the metaphors and language we use. But no general statement can ever captures the complexity of human behavior. More simply put, and using our example, “he’s not “always” a “slob” literally. Rather, there are certain times when I observe certain behaviors which I might not like. I also choose to describe them as slob-like, whatever that may mean.
It makes a huge difference how we use our words: “you stupid slob” will generate much more unproductive and energy-draining reactions in your relationship, than simply stating “you left your clothes all over the bathroom floor”.
And perhaps more important, what stories or narratives we get pushed around by in our day to day relationships with our partners.
Language is powerful and forms the lens through which we construct our world and then react to this world. Take a moment in the coming weeks to notice just how your story forms a lens through which you view your partner. And notice your reaction as you view him or her through this lens.
Give it a try…
I also invite you to check out Acceptance and commitment therapy and learn more about how this works in Couples counseling and marriage therapy..
Acceptance and Comittment therapy (ACT) is a revolutionary new development in human psychology. Originally developed for treating anxiety and depression, Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT) adds powerfully to Marriage and Couple therapy.
Originally developed in the USA, ACT is rapidly being embraced in Europe, England, South America, Australia and around the world. ACT is supported by extensive ongoing research confirming its effectiveness as a therapeutic approach.
Based on principles of behavioral psychology, ACT has striking similarities with many ancient Eastern traditions, particularly contemplative or Mindfulness-based approaches. In this respect, the approach can be described as both radically new as well drawing on some ancient approaches.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for partners in Couples counseling and Marriage Therapy, is really about building skills…
* support partners in becoming more aware, present and engaged with themselves and their partner;
* allow this awareness to fill each moment of the relationship;
* allow partners to move from being swept along by endless stories or narratives and judgements and the feelings that they trigger to a much more flexible and adaptable response to the demands of the situation;
Another way of looking at this, is that each partner becomes less likely to be swept away by the stories he or she tells and the strong emotions which often follow. So each partner is less likely to react to these negative thoughts and feelings arising in the moment by getting caught up and swept away, much like a small bird in a hurricane.
And much less likely to react to negative thoughts and feelings with words, actions and behaviours which cause hurt and harm. And as a consequence, less likely to land up feeling distant and isolated from each other and feeling lonely in the relationship.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) facilitates increased psychological flexibility..
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) talks about developing and increasing Psychological Flexibility. In a nutshell this means being able to adapt to life situations with openness, awareness and focus – and to take effective action guided by your values – by what is most important to you, what you want for yourself in your life. Put slightly differently, psychological flexibility allows one to be more engaged, present and participate more fully in one’s life with more options.