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Conflict with your partner can be an invitation into greater intimacy…

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

'Pain and difficulty can sometimes serve as the pathway to a new level of involvement. They do not necessarily mean that there is something inherently wrong with the relationship; on the contrary, relationship troubles may be a challenging initiation into intimacy' (Thomas Moore: Soul Mates-Honoring the Mysteries of Love and Relationship; 1994: xiv).

So often I see couples in therapy who, after years into their relationship, begin to shut down, anticipating a predicted outcome in their management of problems. Their level of intimacy deteriorates and symptoms begin to arrive, like spending limited time together, infrequent sex, an affair, addictions, and becoming overly consumed by other 'traps'. Typically, when couples first start dating, there are often numerous exciting dialogues that they engage in: their wild, unrealised dreams, their burning passions their life history; then there were those frequent trips to the cinema, sharing popcorn and storytelling about themselves as kids, like getting their first bike, falling off a jungle gym, being bullied by their big brother... And then over time, projections are gradually taken back; dreams may become unfulfilled, kids are now on the scene, bills frankly just need to be paid and conflict becomes a real part of the relationship-This truely now makes this space between the two, a holy container, a cooking vessel with ample opportunities to grow and develop; a chance for something more authentic to develop as the masks are now peeled off and couples are exposed in their nakedness, child-like; and revealed to themselves and to the other...

But herein, a pattern has developed over the years and each partner will then react in a 'predictable' manner when it comes to dealing with the conflict on the surface-either one won't listen, some shut down, play ostrich, are defensive, become distracted by work, sport, the kids, their phone.. And slowly the rot creeps in, and the couple quietly zone off from one another and become psychologically distant, creating a mote around their individual castles...Until, one day, the volcano erupts and painful truths are revealed in some or other format..

It's at this point that one partner may suggest couple work to address the elephants in the room; and if both parties are committed to the process, a little magic can bring some relief back, some profound insights-like a flower unfolding from a tight bud, an orchestra in cohesion-she starts to listen, he vocalises why he works late; she admits to being angry, he concedes to being childish...

Regular car services are required to keep a car going, check ups are vital to maintain our health.. so why not our primary relationship?



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