How deep do you go for answers to relationship problems?
Relationships require practice, like any worthwhile skill
How deep you go for answers to relationship problems depends on what the problem is. You have the capacity to learn and to heal. Yet often you need a medicine, a catalyst, to activate that healing.
But how strong does the catalyst need to be, to activate change? Sometimes you need to go deep, very deep. Other times the answer is right there before your eyes. Sometimes you need only a small catalyst, and at other times you need a cataclysmic catalyst. You need to the proverbial Mac truck. This applies for healing the body, and it applies to our psychology. The need for a healing catalyst also applies to your relationships.
The reason that I have written Relationship Insights is that each one is a specific, small catalyst for your learning and change. Inevitably, when you attend regularly to many small details, you need fewer cataclysms i.e. “wake-up calls” in your life!
Small changes make a huge difference over time.So, how deep do you need to go for answers?
Because my training is in depth psychology and psychoanalysis, I used to think that only by digging deep could the cause of difficulties be discovered. Sometimes this is still the case.
However, there are many times when the information for change is staring you in the face. I help you to see what you are looking at – or what your partner is looking at.
The flat tyre analogy
For example, you have a flat tyre on your car. You can’t see it because you are in the car, driving. But your partner, from the outside, can see the flat tyre. Continuing the tyre example, you don’t need depth analysis to discover why you have a flat tyre. You deal with the tyre.However, if you have a new flat tyre every day of the week, you don’t just keep replacing the tyre. You are going to look beyond that. You will investigate.(If you are a good driver you will know, from the inside, that you have a flat tyre. But we are jumping ahead. Yet, how many times have you seen someone driving with a flat tyre, apparently oblivious?)Another way of explaining this, is that you might occasionally find yourself saying “idiot!” when someone does something silly, such as cut in front of you in traffic. Well, maybe that was cheeky driving, and you have some reason to be annoyed. However, if you find yourself saying, or thinking, “idiot!” (or something far less polite) to the cat, to your partner, to the waiter at the coffee shop, the person serving you at OfficeWorks, there person on the phone from the insurance company, etc, then something else is going on. The problem, my friend, is with you, not all those idiotic people. This is when serious depth-work is required. This is when self-inquiry is the only way to a less stressful and happier place.
So, some of what you discover in these Insights will be common sense. You will get it straight away. “Why didn’t I think of that?!”
Some insights will be exploring the hidden reasons for feelings, conflicts and behaviours. This is in the “new flat tyre every day of the week” category. In these particular Insights I draw on psychoanalysis and depth psychology – yes, they really do come in handy. These particular Insights might be a surprise. “I never would have thought!”
Inevitably, my PhD in philosophy shows up in some Insights, because philosophy is about how we make meaning in our lives. These Insights educate you, and give you a wider view of your life and relationship. “I’ve learned something!”
How to work with the Relationship Insights
Read and discuss
Firstly, read them together, (over coffee?) and talk about them, (while taking a walk?) Also talk about them with close friends. The Insights are a great conversation-starter.
Ask, how does this apply to me?
Next, ask yourself the important question, “How does this apply to ME?” Rather than how does it apply to my partner!If you are very, very courageous, and if you and your partner have developed a deep trust, you might even ask you partner, “How do you think this applies to me?” In other words, you are asking for honest feedback. But your partner needs to step carefully, with respect, compassion, kindness and understanding.
Create a dedicated time time to speak with your partner about the Relationship Insights
The Gottman Institute recommends that a couple spend (a minimum of) 6 hours per week together, in order to grow and sustain their relationship. Some of that time can be dedicated to Relationship Insights! Allow enough time for an in-depth discussion – you might not know at the outset that this is headed for a real ‘deep and meaningful’. Be prepared that your partner might see things differently. Are you curious about that difference? Or threatened? Mmm. This is quality time invested in your relationship.