Do You Want to Dance or Do You Want to Wrestle in Your Relationship?
Relationships are not always fifty-fifty or equal plus they don’t have to be. When a new couple comes in for couples counseling, I explore with them what is working in their relationship and what is not working. Unfortunately, with only 45-50 minutes in a couple’s session, often times we cannot get through all of that in the first session. Many times one person in the couple is more verbal than the other so I get to hear more from their point of view first. However, the other person’s point of view is just as important to hear so we schedule an individual session for each of them for the next week. Each person needs the opportunity to voice their thoughts and feelings without one person either inadvertently or intentionally dominating the conversation. The challenge becomes that almost all relationships are not fifty-fifty! One person is stronger verbally while another is stronger in other areas. They have learned to do the ‘dance’ of who leads and who follows in which situations. Sometimes that ‘dance’ developed a long time ago and one or both of them might have changed since then but they don’t know how to change the ‘dance’ since their partner has gotten used to the original ‘dance’. For example, one person may have started out handling all of the finances because perhaps the other person wasn’t interested in that area but now maybe they are more interested. The ‘dance’ is familiar but now one of them isn’t happy with that part of the ‘dance’ and the challenge becomes how to communicate that to the other person so they can explore a new ‘dance’ together. The tricky part often is how to start that conversation without triggering the other person’s defenses so it doesn’t become a wrestling match! We want both people to be able to stay present and really hear what we are trying to communicate which means they have to start with the intention to listen and learn more about their partner’s thoughts and feelings. Sometimes that requires having a couples counseling therapist there to translate the messages and guide them into the new ‘dance.’ Learning a new ‘dance’ can be exciting and very rewarding!
Putting the Pieces Together (So We Make Sense of Ourselves, Others and Our World)
Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD
Couples Therapy Ventura, California
©2014 Lois Zsarnay, LMFT, BCPC, RD