The stakes in couples therapy are so high...I had terrible couples therapy. Now I am the therapist
Entrusting some element your most prized relationship to a stranger is a massive deal, my own rubbish experience of couples therapy meant I decided if I ever worked with couples I would offer something different and that drives me still. If I see a couple that love each other or can evoke clearly the memory of when they did love each other deeply even though they may feel hopeless at this point in time, I have the chink of light I need to work with.
Sometimes there are patterns of conflict that despite best endeavours continues to dominate the relationship, sometimes, often for me as a psychosexual therapist the issue or one of the issues is sexual difficulty and the erosion this causes to a relationship. It does not matter if it is men or women, if one desires and the other does not, guilt, shame, anger, sadness, despondency and impasse can often feature. Our sexual lives and relationships are nuanced and complex and they can become incredibly weighted. Weighty, struggles don't do a great deal for erotic aliveness and it's also the most vulnerable possible area, no-one really teaches us about sex, instead we get taught reproduction, for our younger life how to avoid it at all costs, in our 20's and 30's and maybe 40's how to get pregnant. But the erotic, well all we know is what our friends say about frequency or partners and performance, what we read, hear, watch. How many peoples preferred choice with a new partner is to be slammed up against the kitchen counters and taken roughly, we never see the reality of tights, or socks coming off, people worrying about their bodies being judged or very occasionally we see a kid or flatmate appear, the Ocado/Sainsbury/Tesco /Amazon/Conservative canvasser never buzzes the door mid sex, it's not real, and we so need to be a bit more real about sex. We also need to bring some fun to it, some pragmatism, some lightness because sex can be raw and passionate and alive or it can be a much needed 5 minute release snatched before sleep.
Sometimes this love not be there for one or both but they want or need to find a way to move beyond, conflict, hurt, resentment, all fundamental reflections of fear to a place where they can let each other go with kindness and continue to be decent to one another. As a therapist, as a human, in this work I am absolutely driven by this. The wound of a love lost that continues to be toxic even after separation, especially if there are children involved is like a volcano within those children's lives they live perpetually having to navigate the threat and it takes something from them. Kids principle concern in a separation is that their Mum and Dad are both ok and ideally they can be warm and kind to each other if they are forced to share a space, so that the kids safety and peace albeit forever altered, can be assured.
Anyway I am going to ask my couples clients to contribute to this article and see what I can learn about what matters or mattered in our work.