One of the goals I have in couples therapy is to be able to catch a couple’s “story of us”.
Couples start therapy by talking about what brings them in. A lot of problem-talk follows, which is essential for the therapist to understand the disconnect. One side talks a lot about their perspective and the other will (often) contradict and contest. Couples start their conversation about their individual identities and how it conflicts with the other’s. It’s normal to hear a lot about each person’s individuality, what one person wants and what makes one person happy.
At some point, I want to hear “the story of us”. I want to hear how they talk about specific times in their relationship when they were able to repair problems. I want to hear how much they recall about instances in their relationship when the problem was not present, how they met and what makes them stay together.
When I ask about certain aspects about their spouses, I want to know how much time they spend talking about the other versus talking about themselves. I am curious to find out how much they recall details that are important to both; I wonder if their brains stored some shared meaning of their lives.
The sum of all parts
I listen for words of “we” or “us” instead of “I” or “me”.
A good indication of whether couples can overcome their difficulties is their ability to see themselves as one unit. A unit that supports each other and above all, two people that can understand each other’s issues (notice I did not say “agree”). Couples who are stuck on each other’s character, meaning that they focus on what is right or wrong about each other, will have a harder time creating shared meaning.
Couples who struggle on their own to find what connects them or what will keep them together can try Couples Therapy. Contact me for a 15 min free consultation.
What is your story of us?