Couple therapy helps you to feel more freedom to say the difficult things you don’t normally let yourself say. When you keep your hurt or anger bottled up inside it creates distance between you and your partner. You then have to manage all the pain that comes with distance on top of managing the things you’re not talking about.
Couple therapy helps you be more reflective about your feelings. Then, when you share what’s on the inside with your partner, it becomes easier for him or her to listen to you and care about what you are saying.
Couple therapy is meant to help you know yourself well enough that when you talk about difficult things, you can do so without putting the whole weight of the trouble on your partner’s shoulders. This makes it much easier for you to ask for help. Asking for help closes the distance. It motivates a partner to listen. It opens the door for understanding.
Sharing yourself effectively is a process of self-gathering in which you recognize and reveal your concerns, your (very often vulnerable) feelings about saying these concerns, and what you know about yourself that makes these concerns so troubling. Self-gatheringallows you to tell your whole story without argument or self-justification. Most of us have a hard time talking to one another in this way.
Gathering your self to share is difficult because we expect that it will lead to some kind of loss as a result of showing who we are and what we feel. The possibility of humiliation, disapproval, or of rejection hangs over many people like the Sword of Damocles. Even when we do not anticipate these painful possibilities, there seems to be a human tendency to not risk any kind of estrangement that might come from controversy or conflict. There is also the simple wish to protect those we love from the things that we know will hurt them. But there are costs to not showing ourselves to our partner. These costs can include distance, the accumulation of resentment, and less vitality in your relationship.
Every day I witness people warm each other when they share themselves fully. This makes me want this for all the couples with whom I work. Couple therapy is meant to help you establish anchoring experiences of sharing yourself in this way so that you can have confidence in your own ability to let your partner know you.
Couple therapy provides the unique experience of slowing things down so that it is safe enough for you to gather yourself and share all the important parts. You learn to speak from your heart and be more yourself in your relationship. Couple therapy is meant to help you feel good about how you relate. Learning to share in this way will evoke your partner’s regard and understanding.
Revealing yourself helps open those necessary currents that can bring out the very best in your relationship. When you speak from the heart and show your vulnerability the flow of closeness and affection can open between you. When you share in this way you open the current in which your distinct self is available to your partner. You open yourself to be profoundly known. This helps open the current in which your partner can recognize you in the deepest sense. Your sharing in this open way is also your contribution to the collaborative quality necessary to work together.
Couple therapy bolsters your confidence that you can always be yourself and share yourself in your relationship. It encourages both of you to believe that, through your own sharing, you can keep the flow of positive experience moving between you.
With effort to reveal my thoughts about revealing yourself,
Robert Ogner October 28, 2008