To fall in love is easy. To sustain love, or even to continue liking the person we’ve chosen to be with, can be a much more difficult prospect. Yet humans are, by nature, relational beings. We will suffer if we deny the truth that deep, altruistic love for another human makes us both happier and healthier. New developments in neuroscience affirm psychotherapeutic understanding that psychological, emotional and physical well-being is greatly enhanced in those who enjoy satisfying relationships. Humans are empathic beings: love and physical touch in infancy are essential for the formation of a healthy brain. In turn, a healthy brain-functioning results in clearer thought processes and more stable emotions. The barriers between one human and another are not as distinct as we might perceive and the ‘separation’ that exists between individuals may have more to do with what is happening internally for each than what’s apparently being played out between them on the external stage.
Most people probably realise that good relationship needs to be worked at, but modern life doesn’t always provide us with the environment or the tools to do so. Modern society, driven by media and technology, has stopped believing the stories of mythology and folk-lore, which spell out that anything of real meaning to us is worth the struggle to understand. Intuitively, perhaps we know that we need to fight for what has most value. Just as hostility and negativity between two people ripples out to affect others, work on one relationship can impact all of a couple’s other relationships for the good.
I work with other local psychosynthesis-trained therapists, David England and Harry Jenkins, to provide couples with a neutral, welcoming and safe environment to explore obstacles arising between them. When we enter any relationship, we each carry with us a case-load of hopes and expectations, as well as fears arising from previous experience of relationships gone wrong, and boxes of accumulated curiosities from our childhood homes. These preconceived notions may add to the weight of baggage we end up throwing at one another when the relationship no longer seems to nourish, or provide us with what we need. To clearly see and understand what we are accusing the other of when relationship falls apart, may require sensitive support and guidance, especially where there has been a breach of trust.
The couples therapy service we offer incorporates time and space for unravelling what each partner brought with them into the relationship, as well as examining the issues arising in the relationship itself. One of the couple has regular psychotherapy with me and the other with David or Harry. About every four weeks we come together for a 90-minute couple counselling session where the four of us work together to clarify the dynamics of the relationship. In this way, couples can learn to become more intimate, to speak and listen to one another in a more constructive way, to express their own and appreciate each other’s wants and needs, to negotiate difficult decisions, maybe to restore the love, respect, trust and enjoyment they once knew. If, as a couple, they decide to separate or divorce, then couple counselling can provide emotional support through what may be a painful process.