About six months ago, I decided to go 'all in' on my couples work. While I was creating my new website, Jon Leland, my consultant, asked me how long I wanted to keep my old website, which advertised my work with people in recovery, and with individuals. When I hesitated, he said, "Well, you want to focus on couples, so let's close it down."
It took a while, but that moment was a birth and a death. A birth of my commitment to A Path for Couples, and a death of the other kinds of therapy work I was used to doing. I felt excited, almost liberated.
The comments of my students who have taken the class have made this decision worthwhile: "The work has changed our lives." "I felt like I did when I first met her. The magic is back." "We can change conflict into moments of understanding."
It's a joy to work with committed couples for many months, to watch them learn communication skills, and to break entrenched patterns that have caused them stress. Fear has so many forms! All of us react to each other, when we feel hurt or abandoned. We create attack-defend struggles, or pursue-withdrawal.
With love, consciousness and a few simple practices, so many couples I have seen can learn to open to love and honesty. One couple wrote at the end of the last course, "We're grateful to have been part of the couples on the path. (The program) has truly transformed and helped our relationship in so many ways." Margie, Santa Rosa. married nine years.
Debra and I finished our residential Couples retreat and were so inspired by our students' dedication to healing and to growth. They were honest and courageous. Then we had time to 'take the retreat' ourselves on the beach in Hawaii after they had left. We found ourselves in a very familiar conversation about control and resistance, management and avoidance. I'll let you guess which of us was which!
But taking the teaching of the retreat, we started to open to our own conditioning, to how our own conditioning might have create this habituated interchange. I took a risk and said, "You know, I think that we are suddenly reacting in a very youthful, immature way. We are wrestling with false intimacy and with false independence, and not expressing ourselves maturely."
Debra agreed, and said, "Ah, we've been here before.. We worked on this pattern and haven't been caught in it, in a while. I wonder why it's coming up now?"
We took a two minute time-out to see what we could learn. Suddenly an insight lit up. I said, "We've been opening to a new depth of love. I wonder if reverting to this old issue is a way of keeping the status quo."
When we brought our unconscious attempt to stay in familiar territory into awareness, we made the choice to leap together into the deep end of the love pool!
We just dropped the struggle, and entered into that oceanic, blissful tropical love which we had felt so much of, both when we were teaching the retreat, and when we were connecting with each other.