Archive for couple

Couples Come in Many Surprising Ways

Traditionally, a couple is defined as two people involved in a committed relationship and who are (usually) in a sexual relationship. In the past few years, individual clients have asked if I could see them and a member of their family or a close friend in a therapeutic setting. The prospect of this both intrigued and slightly intimidated me. As a couple’s therapist I am trained to work with two people but had never worked with this type of dynamic. Of course, there have been issues that I’ve not encountered before with clients but I’ve managed to work through the ‘not knowing’ and managed to work reflectively through these issues. Because of this, I allowed myself to trust my instincts and agreed.

My first experience was with a client who wanted to tell her father a few things she found difficult to say to him. She felt ready to speak in what she believed was a safe environment, with the support from a therapist. We agreed on 5 sessions and in that time, they were able to disentangle some of their old narratives and heal deep historic wounds that had created distance between them. This helped my client feel heard in a way she had not experienced with her father and they were both able to begin to make sense of what happened between them and how this had impacted on their relationship. My admiration for this ‘couple’ was huge and it was to their credit that they managed to stay with the uncomfortable feelings and worked through their issues.

What struck me was that all people, no matter what kind of couple, share a sense of not being heard, not being seen, feelings of hurt and a fear of losing their relationship. The longing for repair and need for harmony between people is part of our drive as humans. We are born to connect and love but we don’t always have the tools to know how best to achieve this. This is when people reach out for help and therapy can be a tool that enables individuals to connect with themselves in order to connect with others. Couples bring their hope of creating a new understanding and better communication between the people they love.

There is clearly a difference between working with traditional couple issues and relatives or friendships. My own understanding of these differences has been informed by own experience, by my willingness to ask questions and to learn to not assume anything. As a therapist, I am disentangling and constantly trying to make sense of feelings and where they might be originating from. The dynamics between people, whether a romantic couple or between relatives or friends are usually based on a connection that has been severed in some way. In both cases, the work is the same, reestablishing that connection.

Shirlee Kay

The growth of a couple

The awakening of gardens all over the country can be likened to the growth of a couple and what is needed to constantly care for and fertilise the ongoing story of a relationship.

Like a mother plant, cuttings have to be made, tonic has to be given and weeding around the base needs attending to in order to keep the health and strength of the original root. Sacrifices have to be made to make way for new shoots and changing shapes and ideas.

With a relationship, daily care is needed, new ideas formed and new friendships, hobbies and interests outside and within the couple to enable change and passion to happen without threat to the trust and containment of the two people forming the root couple.

Trusting the other to the extent you trust yourself is an essential part of individuation. Following different interests and incorporating some different groups of friends for each person is like fertilisation and tonic to a plant and couple.

As well as shared ideas, hopes and concerns, outside input is a necessary part of development and change. If a plant is left to soldier on, becoming weaker each year, it will often live a long life but without vibrancy and energy.

Freedom, within trust and interest in the other person’s life on the planet as well as your own, is a wonderful thing if achieved without a sense of abandonment from either side. It brings with it the colour and shape of an interesting garden which changes with time and nurture.

Clare Ireland.