It is now six weeks since the moving and emotional D-Day landing anniversary which made people in Europe and the wider world stand still and marvel about the courage, bravery and sense of purpose shown by men, some of whom were just out of, or having lied about their age, still in boyhood.

I could have written this on June 6th, instead of my blog posted on the 10th on another subject, in order to try and capture the mood of the moment.  It is said that the technical world has made things hard to store in memory but I wonder if this is accurate about the things which really matter.  That being the reason for pausing before writing.

Working with couples in my Coupleworks practice, I marvel at the perseverance of two people trying to find solutions to their apparently insolvable difficulties.  I see how memory can affect them and have influence on their adult lives and communication with others without them being consciously aware.

Sometimes, a couple can  bring  a problem or problems which seem to be defeating them. They feel unhappily stuck.  I ask them what memory they have about their first meeting.  This can bring tears of sadness about what they now feel is lost and irretrievable  When we look further into their story before they met and how the relationship grew it is often memory of something in their past which becomes conscious when one inadvertently ‘presses a button’ in the other.  This throwaway remark, not meant to wound can ignite something and cause a row out of all proportion to the original comment.

It is helpful, in a therapy session, if we unpick some of what might have happened.  Memories of earlier hurt from a source unknown to one and forgotten by the other start to uproot old pain, This insight is also helpful to individuals who come into therapy wondering why keeping a relationship is hard for them.

It can be useful  to explore what is going on inside their own memory bank rather than the temptation to tell their  partner what they think is happening to them.  Taking time out to think about what happened in a painful argument and try to locate the earlier hurt where memory is their aid.  It can be painful to remember things which seem better forgotten but the damage which can silently seep into the foundation of their intimate lives can be the clue to returning to how they felt when on their first date.  This time, however, it will enhance that first feeling rather than destroying the couple or individual seeking a partner.

Clare Ireland