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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Being Whole & Healing Within a Couple

Uploaded: Nov 2, 2017
I think many of us would agree that you want to be a whole person, standing on your own two feet in a relationship with  another person that is whole and standing on two feet. Most of you don't want to be two people in a "3-legged" relationship. However, you can heal even core wounds in the context of a securely attached relationship. [See my post about "Hold Me Tight" for definition and information about attachment theory.

So how and what do you do with these seemingly differing views? Is there a way to integrate them? If there's one thing I learned from the process of grieving, it is that we can and do hold different (and apparently opposing) feelings simultaneously; and while difficult, it will not cause us to implode or explode.

You want to know that your partner can do everything he or she needs to do in life if you weren't there (due to death -- on one end of the spectrum, or a trip away alone to rejuvenate -- on the other end). You want our emotional wounds known to both of you, and to be able to address them or leave them alone as makes sense in the moment for each of you.

You have built-in biological needs to be wanted and needed. Yet you don't want to be overly wanted and needed. That balance is different for every couple, and in healthy couples the balance within each person and the relationship may be continually shifting. For example, what you need from our partner after a great day at work or with our child(ren) vs. a tough day will be different.

Your core wounds show up in a good relationship because you feel safe enough for them to surface. You go into a partnership with love and excitement. You have high hopes for security, acceptance, and unconditional love. In your comfort with your partner, your "shadow side" (as Carl Jung calls it -- the parts of yourselves you don't like, that you're uncomfortable with, or are unconscious) seeps out as you get to know each other and ourselves better. Relationship satisfaction may take a  downward turn , and with each disappointment, your early wounds are re-activated (in 1/200th of a second). The downward spiral begins.

So you may be two functioning people in a relatively healthy relationship, and find yourselves in this surprising place of pain and disillusionment. Without working on it, you may end up living like roommates, disconnecting emotionally and sexually, and/or arguing. 

The good news is that core issues can be healed within your relationship. And yes, of course, it's a lot of work. You can live "happily ever after" as long as you seek to understand and be understood, to play, to grow, and to learn -- to be curious. These are things that couples therapy can help with. Rather than wishing that issues didn't exist or would just go away, please know that you all have wounded places inside; it is part of being human.

Immediate tools are available in a few excellent books, so check out the book reviews I've posted so far, and be assured there will be more.
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