I have a quick video for you where I share one of our take-home tasks in couples therapy. It’s 3 minutes of positivity directed toward your partner.
This is so important, as we need to build up the emotional good will. Most of us focus on the problems. Which seems like the best thing to do and there definitely is a time and place for that.
Most of us need to regroup and remember the good things. Especially in this Covid world. Gratitude and acknowledgement supports our immune system. Plus it feels better ! So here is a quick guide to the three key skills of Imago – Mirroring, Validation and Empathising. With the daily positivity practice of three minutes a day and sharing that. Love to know how you go, please drop me note below.
My amazing friend and brilliant therapist Michele Weiner-Davis ( Yes a bit of hero worship here!) has brought us the Last Resort Technique (LRT). This is when your spouse says the dreaded “D” word, divorce.
I see some common misapprehensions on the LRT. So I will put up a wee refresher here.
The three steps are
Get a Life.
And once you are working this then, how you might respond :
Be loving in return, but not overly excited or enthusiastic.
Accept some invitations to spend time together, but not all.
Accept all Family time invites. Your spouse seeing you having fun with your kids together reminds them of the value of family. You are a parent forever.
Do not ask any questions about your future together.
Be vague when asked questions about the changes in you. Say that you are just thinking things through. Live the shift.
Continue to be upbeat.
Do not say, “I love you.”
Resist getting in the conversation about your relationship.
Get a head start and beat your spouse to the punch when it comes time to leave or separate from each other at the end of an activity. You set the tone for going your separate ways.
As a rule of thumb, be responsive to your partner’s interest but not too responsive. Going overboard will lead your partner to get cold feet. Be warned.
So, stay interested, but cool in a self-possessed manner, (not icy though, as that will send mixed messages) until you are absolutely convinced that your partner’s renewed interest in saving your marriage has taken hold.
Good luck, dear hearts.
Know I am thinking of you all and wishing you well.
Now this topic can raise certain parts of us up in interesting ways, depending on our own early experiences. Are you a spendthrift? Or perhaps you live for today and forget to save for tomorrow. Exactly how did your parents handle money? Who was the decision maker or was it shared? Did they talk finances?
In my household it was very traditional. Dad was the breadwinner. Mum homemaker. And boy was my Dad controlling with the checkbook. Poor mum had to ask him to sign blank checks ( US spelling sorry) to buy the weekly grocery’s.
This was due to Dad’s lack of inner security, outdated and untrue beliefs about women and spending. Times have changed in their marriage. Mum is the one now holding all the ( credit) cards.
$ talking money, can be charged, yep I know bad pun. The way we get around this is with our Imago conversation. Want to see an actual couple session on this very topic?
I often refer to Imago Therapy in my blog. That’ s because I use it personally and professionally. The skills I have learnt there have helped us so much. This is why I share this today, a list of beautiful therapists in Australia. The QR code that will take you directly to this amazing site.
I can write them easily – Love, Respect, Friendship and Trust. Two dimensional words.
It’s the actions and responses that you show and share with your partner that can make or break your partnership. Are you a good friend?
Are you present, listening, showing care, curiosity and connection? Or are you just going through the motions as you walk through the door?
I am not talking about those still in the romance relationship phase here. This is where we are drugged with nature’s anesthesia as Harville Hendrix calls PEA – Phenylethylamine.
When the PEA wears off as it inevitably will, cracks appear. Our partner eats noisily, forgets to call, leaves without kissing you goodbye.
What attracted you initially now repels you.
All minor things but they build up. Resentment festers. If left too long it seems as if the D-word is the only option.
It’s not, change is possible.
Imago Couple Therapy is designed to help you gain skills, communicate, learn and grow together by applying loving, respectful, and trust-building practices.
So stop the resentment rot from setting in. See a relationship specialist today.
Only the other day in a couple therapy session, a husband and wife joined some of the dots on how their life patterns played out.
Husband said, ” Oh I used to take it personally when I imagined you were prioritizing your friends over me.” His Wife said “I can’t say no to my friends, I over-commit myself. I don’t want to let anyone down or it will feel like a failure to me.” Husband “I see now it’s you wanting to please everyone and where this comes from. What a lot of expectation pressure you put on yourself.” Both said they felt hopeful as this new perspective allowed more love and respect to build.
Relationships a two way street. Keep the avenues open with kindness, gratitude and generosity. Your partner will trigger you. Breathe to calm yourself. Use your words, actions, and deeds to inspire the love you want.
Welcome to February. Lovely to see you. What a start to 2021. Hope your’s went safely and happily.
During this shut in time Chris and I have had a lot of Netflix binge time. I now belong to three streaming platforms. Truly I never thought I would but there you go.
We certainly enjoyed watching Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman in the HBO television series ‘The Undoing’. A lot happens in six episodes. I won’t spoil anything, only, in the end, there are ‘just desserts’. Warning TV ending different from book ending. Both work well though.
This inspired me to read the book of the same name. A little slow to start but hang in there.
Nicole Kidman plays a clinical psychologist in private practice who’s written a book – ‘You Should Have Known.’ This becomes a prevailing theme. Her character Grace’s self help title is to help people not make relationship mistakes. To get out early before marriage. She believes people tell you who they are and how they operate (so do I).
If we listened we would avoid all the heartbreak of divorce by not falling for a self-centred person, an emotionally abusive spouse or the addictive partner.
What we start to sense is ‘she should have known’.
We see Grace play out her guilt and denial about who her husband really is. Hugh Grant as Jonathon the pediatric oncologist has the perfect amount of charm and solicitousness. Author Jean Hanff Korelitz has selected a doctor to portray a narcissist capable of much duplicity. As Sam Vaknin, Professor of psychology, specializing in narcissism suggests reading as a way of understanding the narcissist and psychology. This book will give you excellent insight.
Grace as Jonathan’s ‘victim’ and wife starts to see her life unravel. It is only with hindsight she learns the true character of her husband. An egotist hides in plain sight. That is often the way we can’t see things as they are often little pieces of the jigsaw.
Her friends are sidelined systematically and she is isolated from outside observer feedback. This is a common tactic of the abusive person. The wolf separates the lamb from the herd.
We see Grace as confident and competent in her couples counseling profession. Yet her personality has a kind caring self, which totally ignored the red flags. Much to her detriment.
I think we the reader can identify. This guy had sort of ‘saved’ her. Her dating days were over. She settled. On paper, Jonathan Sachs looked much like the perfect spouse.
This is a spell she has to break free of. It is a form of trance I see many caring people struggle with. We see the charming superficial parts with explanations and rationalisations for everything. Yet there actions do not match their plays.
Some professions possibly lend themselves to the double life scenario. I recall a friend who’s best friend died in a helicopter crash. He as a fireman, pillar of the community type. His wife was most distressed at his funeral to learn of his second partner and family.
So take your time read the book, a great diversion.
I coach a lot of single men and woman on relationships. I love seeing their growth and healing as they find an equal and loving match.
For February make it fabulous with diversion and entertainment. Love to hear your thoughts on the book or series if you have read it or would recommend others.
Christmas time can bring a load of feelings. For some of us these are heavy, painful and lonely times. For others, it’s a joyous celebration of connection.
My friend and eminent couples therapist Michele Weiner- Davis’ said at training, we as therapists need to be able to heal relationships. That includes our own circle.
Shutting off or cutting off as it is called in therapy speak it not the most healthy option. Real courage comes from working through the rupture in the relationship to repair and healing.
It is a bias of mine for families to have connections. So in this video, I will show you a Resource Therapy process for clarification. It’s a safe self-help action you can take. I give a quick demonstration.
I think it beats journalling ( although that is good too) as there is something unique in speaking this out with ourselves.
Note I am not suggesting you have the conversation with the person. Rather this is like the letter you write without sending. It is for you to gain insight and hopefully an emotional shift. Love to hear how it went for you. please share your experiences.
Philipa Thornton is your Relationship Psychologist in Sydney, and now worldwide online. Philipa and her husband Chris Paulin run Marriage Works their busy private practice, helping couples re-pair with coupe therapy, heal marital issues to find relationship harmony. We assist singles em-power, heal, and develop healthy internal and external relationships.
Have you ever heard your spouse complaining and feel as if you need to respond in kind with your frustration too? Too soon you’re in a massive argument wondering how di you go from 0-100.
Perhaps your mate works a great deal. They say it’s for your family but you feel lonely. You withdraw or share all your love with your children thinking about divorce.
You can’t sit still and relax, there’s a compulsion to keep busy. You worry. Sometimes it even feels like panic.
Maybe you like your world to be a certain way and it feels terrible if there is a disappointment or change of plans. Your partner feels controlled, you often feel out of control.
What is going on here?
Many of our feelings and behavioral responses are laid down in childhood.
We protect, reject, project and react from those childhood parts of us. Our Parts that were emotionally neglected, shamed, abandoned or not accepted or allowed to explore or make mistakes as little people.
We may have received conditional love if we did well at sports or feel that we were not seen, heard, or supported. We feel invisible, voiceless, and not good enough on the inside. It’s a struggle to let love in. We hide.
This then plays out for us in adulthood. Our partner selection ensures we will find a person who mirrors our caregivers negative and positive traits. Our parts will become active in their adaptive ways trying to protect our emotional selves.
Far from it. Indeed you have found the exact match to help you heal and grow.
Perhaps you relate, or see yourself or your partner?
Watch this video and drop a comment in the box below to share your thoughts and reflections.
Help others by sharing your insights below. Thanks for reading !