One of my dear friends just sent me an email with a hilarious account of her latest couple therapy session that she’s been attending with her husband.
To give you a bit of background, both make a living as very successful writers, and when it comes to the language of persuasion for a book, article or advertising campaign, each have achieved an impressive level of international acclaim and a handful of accolades.
But when it comes to their personal relationship, she says that they have both become a little lazy over the years and have fallen into some unhelpful habits that can be downright hurtful to the other.
Ironically, one thing that has bought them closer together over their therapy sessions has been their mutual struggle to talk about, as well as acknowledge both their own, and each other’s respective feelings.
As you can imagine, in addition to their mutual attraction, their connection is much more of an intellectual or cerebral correlation, as opposed to a more emotional one.
In the course of the last few months, I’ve chuckled at some of the texts she’s sent me post therapy sessions that have ranged from “Dear God – Tell me you don’t use this kind of crap with your clients. ‘It feels like you are hurt and I want you to know that I hear you’. What does he think I am? Deaf?”
My favourite was: “Great. Therapist just ‘invited’ me to avoid using statements that begin with “I/You always” and “I/You Never”. This is obviously a clear misuse of the word ‘invite’ because as if I’d ever RSVP ‘yes’ to that kind of party!”
In addition to how much her candid recounts make me belly laugh, I also know that a way to help her process all of this is to share her experience with someone neutral like myself. Further to sharing a similar zany and self-deprecating kind of sense of humour with her, I also have the blessing of learning from her honest perspective.
The added bonus is seeing how she and her husband respond to a similar style of therapy I use with my own clients. There are times where I feel like I scored front row tickets to a comedy show with backstage passes to see what *really* goes on behind the scenes in ‘couples therapy’.
I also can’t help but notice that my communication style in personal relationships can be uncannily similar to hers and in recent months, I’ve watched how some of my own encounters with my family and close friend have blossomed by applying some of these techniques.
Actually, in this case, it’s been more about refraining to use certain phrases such as “You always..” I didn’t think that I did this so much, but we’re all only ever as balanced as our last trigger, or the last time someone really pissed us off, right?
Although I’ve still got a long way to go in terms of really conscious communication, I can proudly say that I’m starting to coin phrases that avoid “You always..” but sound a bit more like: “I’ve noticed that this has occurred quite a number of times between us over the last few years, and I’d really prefer that it didn’t keep happening.”
In the spirit of complete honesty between us however, I should tell you that the sentence above sounds pretty impressive now, but it did start off with a few more swear words and a rather UN neutral tone of voice.. but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day..
I hope communicating is easier for you than it is for me – til next time, Patty xx