Published on December 4th, 2013 | by The Town Crier0
Re-Learning to Love – Repairing Relationships
We all find relationships difficult at times, especially at Christmas! Sharing our life with another requires a level of compromise and willingness to change that can be very tough at times. This is especially so when we get caught into vicious circles of hurt, blame, resentment, attack, defence and withdrawal. If this pattern becomes embedded it is a slippery slope and is best addressed sooner rather than later.
None of us wants to change, it’s uncomfortable and threatening so we fight to maintain our point of view. “It’s the other that is wrong, not me.” But there comes a point where we have to choose either to put ourselves first or the relationship first.
This is where couples counselling can help. It is a very dynamic form of counselling, with both parties present, there is immediately a lot of material to work on. Each has their own perspective as well as their here and now reactions towards the other. The first step is to provide space for each perspective to be really heard.
The next is often to explore each party’s perspective in more detail, to start to understand where they are coming from. What are the feelings, the needs and imperatives that make up each person’s perspective? Exploring this a new awareness of the other can emerge and it becomes possible to see that each person’s hurt, anger, distress or withdrawal comes from deep underlying needs, not from them being ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’.
When this hurt and distress is acknowledged and we start to see the vicious circles, we can start taking responsibility for ourselves, owning our feelings instead of blaming the other for them.
If there is one saying which provides the tough truth at the heart of relationship problems, it is, “what you dislike and reject in the other is what you dislike and reject in yourself”. After all, we can only understand another to the depth that we understand ourselves.
With support and through this ‘work’ of facing ourselves and each other, it is possible to find a new and deeper love. A love that in moments of openness and freedom is generous, unselfish and a wonderful gift. This is close to the love that Christ represents, close to the spirit of Christmas that resonates longingly in our souls.
Jim Robinson – Counsellor & Psychotherapist (AHPP, BACP, UKC