Phase One: Two Become One
When we fall in love, there is so much newness and discovery that it’s very easy to feel like ‘two become one’, you feel you have so much in common! It’s just like the fairy-tales and you feel that you really will ‘live happily ever after’!!!
This is the ‘symbiotic’ phase of a relationship. It’s a very important part and builds a strong foundation.
Symbiosis or Fusion?
However, inevitably, you start to realise that two have not become one, two are still two. The cracks start to appear, your differences are more obvious and unsettling. I call this the ‘aargh’ phase of a relationship.
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At the end of my last Couples Retreat, one participant, who’d had quite a challenging time of it, declared with a big smile and evident relief that she realised that prior to the retreat she had not been relationship-oriented.
I see this a lot, in various manifestations.
In some couples, one declares they are quite happy in the relationship and so their dissatisfied partner must have their own issues to deal with. Well, no, I’m afraid that if one person is not happy then there is something wrong with the relationship not with only one of the individuals in it. Thinking otherwise is not being relationship-oriented.
I see other couples where they might both be feeling dissatisfied in the relationship, but one claims to know what the problem is, and the problem is the partner, who needs to sort out ‘their’ issues. This person is also not relationship-oriented.
The secret to a strong relationship is that you merge your love and sexual energies within you and share that constantly. This creates a unique vibration between you, like your own radio frequency. It’s a frequency that has the warmth and support of love yet with a zest, a frission of the sexual. It is a potent energy.
This frequency manifests in myriad small ways throughout the day - in looks, touches, comments, tokens (gifts, surprises, services). I’ve described this in other blogs as sharing ‘quanta of deliciousness’, maintaining the 'mmm' factor, and focusing on the 'beforeplay' .
When you keep this frequency strong it creates a depth of connection, a profound intimacy. It makes it both easier to move into genital sexual connection, as you are already so connected it’s not a great jump (important for people who have resistance or difficulty being interested in genital interaction), and paradoxically genital sexual connection becomes less important because you already have a strong sexual energy flowing between you (important for those who have a strong need or urgency for genital interaction). read more...
We’ve discussed the importance of sharing before you move into solution mode. How you do this is equally as important.
John Gottman, has also identified four negative ways of communicating, which he calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. These might not seem as drastic as the originals from the Bible: war, pestilence, famine and plague, but these lesser horsemen can reek just as much damage on a relationship as the big ones do on a whole society. read more...
John Gottman, noted American couples therapist, has some wonderful ideas around good communication. One I particularly like is the concept that you have to share before you can fix.
What this means is that when you have something you need to discuss or resolve, it’s important that the two of you take the time to share how you feel about the situation before you try finding ways of solving the situation. read more...
Taking a break together is always a good thing to do, helping you relax and rejuvenate and hopefully have some quality sexy time away from the stresses of everyday life.
So why would you add a couples retreat to your time away? What are the benefits to you of going to one of my LoveLife Couples Retreats?
Well, where do I start?! Feeling the love and connection in the group and seeing the couples blossom is an experience that’s hard to put into words.
But I’ll try...
We have such huge expectations of our relationships and our partners these days: we expect him or her to be best friend, untiring provider, attentive helpmate, sympathetic counsellor, sexy lover, perfect co-parent, handyperson, master chef, fashion advisor, etc.
Then when they’re not, we’re disappointed.
How realistic is this expectation though? Completely not! read more...
I confess, I do sometimes look at my bookings of the day and see certain client names with some dread…
One such young couple were clients once. Newly married, he was struggling with an ‘incident’ she’d been involved in a little while before and they were not coping at all well. Nastiness, accusations, resentments, passive aggression, verbal aggression … Let’s just say that they weren’t being very nice to each other. And there was definitely no sex happening.
A few sessions on, I looked at my client list one day and saw them as the final clients for the day. The bell rang, with some trepidation I answered it, and lo and behold, there were two young people looking radiant with big smiles on their faces!
The clients and retreat participants I see tend to be pretty together type of people with a mature attitude to life and relating. So I don’t get too many couples who want to stay flat-lining or locked in conflict. They want to grow and develop as individuals and as a couple and have the best life they can.
There are three ways of having a long-term relationship, or four, as the second type manifests in two ways which might appear to be diametrically opposed but are actually versions of the same dynamic:
I have a client at the moment who recently took a ‘marriage sabbatical’. At least, that’s what she and her husband called it.
A work sabbatical is traditionally when you take a break from your job to study something else for a while. The idea is that regular work is too full to focus on the study, so you have some time away, and come back to the job both with new and useful knowledge and a fresh spirit.
That’s what this client is doing with her marriage: she’s taking a month off to be away from her husband and all the expectations and pressures she feels (rightly or wrongly) from being in the marriage, in order to have the space to learn more about herself and what she wants and needs in her life and in her marriage. read more...
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