Being yourself.

Being in a functioning, learning, exploring and interested couple is all part of intimacy. Some of the experience of getting there can feel like a rollercoaster of misunderstanding and helplessness. Having paid for the ride, the couples who learn from it and don’t jump off, can reach a safe and peaceful place when coming into land.

Part of what two people discover from living in close proximity over many years, is that true love comes from balancing their own and each other’s different selves. This ambiguous acceptance allows for the loveable bits and the difficult bits in self and other to create adult and realistic respect, tolerance and understanding.

Counselling and analysis is rooted in trying to establish who the person or people really are and how much they are acting out under an umbrella of other peoples’ selves and voices. Their complex self can become a jigsaw of internalised ‘shoulds’, ‘ought to’ and ‘musts’.

Religion, politics, culture, families, employment and other structures are often the foundation bricks from which a person’s original self and learnt self grows and becomes their thought process.

Extracting blended self from defended self can take a lifetime of gradual awareness. The learning process can take time and trust to establish two whole selves within a couple. More than two people are present in the dialogue. On the first encounter a couple may only see the blended self in the other and that is often a part of the seduction. What follows, however, over the years can be that the original self becomes smothered by the outside persona and the balanced self is incomplete. Therefore the seductive bit at the outset becomes the difficulty which brings people into Coupleworks.

Far from being on the brink of disaster, it can with skillful counselling become the brink of positive change. So the early glimpse becomes the bit which develops into a true, balanced and containing self in each other. Completing the rollercoaster ride takes patience and acceptance of the disappointment of unrealistic expectations at the outset, but the reward is coming into a safe and loving landing.

Clare Ireland