Summary of January 6 call:
- The Choice is to help couples focus.
- The more dysfunctional and less differentiated they are, the more reactive they are and the more they each want the other to make significant changes while doing very little to support the change they seek.
- Each week they report either a new fight or want to rehash old ones.
- It’s very hard to feel like progress is being made by the therapist or the couple.
- The Choice helps keep the process focused for 30 days.
- Progress can be described. Each will focus on one dimension. This is what will pull them forward. They can slip up in other areas but that is not failure. Success is keeping the focus.
- The Choice starts to make it safer to be open to new possibilities. It is very challenging to consider creating a better version of their current situation while defending against blame, shame, guilt, or painful withdrawing.
- Partners keep the focus with full understanding of why it will be beneficial to do it and why it will be hard to do.
- For 30 days – each will focus on how they want to be seen by their partner.
- For 30 days they can choose this response instead of reacting to random stimuli.
I’d like to share some thoughts about what I call The Inner Game of Marital Bliss.
Internal success always comes before external success. Most couples have that backwards, believing the best or only way they can feel better is if their partner changes first. By the time they see us, they are each entrenched in that belief.
By reorganizing the focus to: How I want my partner to see me?, and then defining what they would consider doing to encourage that, the focus shifts from partner’s change to my change.
Re-clarification needs to happen about the benefits for the partner, for the self, and for the relationship.
Then go into why this would be difficult or a challenge which is an ideal piece of two-chair work. If you are familiar with Gestalt, in two-chair work the whole process gets simpler and easier. This can also illuminate trauma that interferes with applying The Choice.
The Choice changes the focus without asking for goals. It illuminates a change they would almost never arrive at on their own.
This is an example of the therapist being a leader instead of reacting to couples’ fights and trying to get one or the other to become a better listener or a better describer of their pain – when they have little motivation to do so!
Remember, a strong me is the foundation for a strong we.
If each is not focusing on how they seek to be seen, their focus will be all over the map. They will focus on how bad they feel, resentments, and what the partner needs to do in order for them to feel better.
By describing how they seek to be seen, they use their imagination not to escape reality but to create reality.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” Lewis Carroll
“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” Dan Zadra
“Reality is for people that lack imagination.” Hayao Miyazaki
“Talent hits the target no one else can hit and Genius hits the target no one else can see.”
“A strong belief based on a false premise can be fatal.”
“Never argue against emotion if your only weapon is logic.” This is why I show videos and tell stories.
During the second consultation call there was a good discussion on who The Choice would not be appropriate for, for example, when one or both parties are really dysregulated.
Several other conditions were described by your colleagues where couples need to evolve before applying The Choice.
This reinforces the fact that no approach works for all couples. (Sigh)