Here is another gem from the School of Life. This essay captures so much of what I see in couples who come into therapy frustrated with their partner or with their shared lives; the gridlock that occurs around their differneces. So we work together to build the skills and capacities to shift perspective and focus on things that are fundamental for experiencing satisfaction in long term partnership, with an emphasis on the below:
- Kindness: a partner who is gentle with our imperfections and can good-humouredly tolerate us as we are.
- Shared vulnerability: someone with whom we can be open about our anxieties, worries and the problems that throw us off balance: someone we don’t have to put on a good front for; someone around whom we can be weak, vulnerable and honest – and who will be the same around us.
- Understanding: someone who is interested in, and can make sense of, certain obscure features of our minds: our obsessions, preoccupations and ways of seeing the world. And whom we are excited to understand in turn.
These three attributes serve as a lubricant when we encounter the sticky stuff. They help to inoculate us against the damages wrought by excessive negativity and the four horsemen of the apocalypse. One cannot simultaneously be kind, vulnerable and understanding while also being critical, defensive, contemptuous and shut down. As the essay says, “if we have these three critical ingredients on hand, we will feel loved and essentially satisfied whatever differences then crop up in other arenas.”
Until next time, peace.