Teaming up to Rediscover the Love
by Jeff Tipp, LMFTi, M.A.
In traditional cultures, it has been common practice to rely upon a trusted and stable couple for mentoring through times of domestic conflict or dissatisfaction. What becomes available to a troubled couple is the seasoned understanding and deep listening from a couple they trust. . In earlier times, this loving support was found within a couples extended family of parents, grandparents or close family friends. The pervasive transience, overstimulation and speed of life we experience today, contributes to our isolation from family. Elders are often relegated to sequestered senior living communities. Here their wisdom and life experience are cut off from those whose relationships might well find comfort and wise support through the inevitable challenges of shared intimacy and commitment.
Jeff and Roberta are seasoned therapists in their 60's with grown children and eighty years of contemplative practice between them. Working as a married team, they bring a gender balanced perspective and shared life experience in helping couples to realize the promise of intimacy and deep communication thats available in a committed relationship. In session, this catalyzing perspective by trained and committed witnesses to the couple's conflict tends to invite a fresh perspective and emerging recognition of shared values. Importantly, we bring a comprehensive skill set of undefended listening and focused communication is modeled and entrained into the midst of issues that previously appeared to be insurmountable. Underlying this deeply collaborative approach is Jeff and Roberta's shared belief that clear, undefended communication underlies relationships that not only last, but thrive.
Often committed relationships, over time, can unwittingly develop habitual patterns of disconnection that becomes routine and erode trust and warmth. Prioritizing productivity, skipping playtime, avoiding sex and overbooking weekends are just a few of the ways couples distance from each other, mutually reducing their investment in their relationship. A shared life can incline towards two parallel lives. There can be a growing sense of estrangement or even abandonment. This slippage occurs often unnoticed for years, so that couples find difficulty in remembering the love they once had and blame or resentment can creep in, fueling the fire of misunderstanding.
Rather than putting focus on what or who is to blame, we encourage the introduction of some simple agreements that lead to renewed appreciation of each other. Simply sharing genuine appreciations each way, at the end of the day, can create a shift. It's surprising to learn what another actually appreciates about who we are. Another is to "start over', beginning anew on the spot, when communication is taking a less than useful direction. Agendas get dropped and often laughter ensues. More daring is practicing the five second kiss, the minimum kiss duration for one to merge energetically with another.
Slowly these "bids for connection" evolve from being effortful to becoming commonplace, creating hope. These measures are not conflict resolution, rather they are rituals of connection which moisten parched relationships and yield surprising turn arounds wherein couples forget what they were fighting about.
From birth we are profoundly relational beings and our basic attachment to others is as vital as food and sleep to our sense of well being. No amount of success, accomplishment, or fame can replace the magic we find when we are deeply reflected in the attentive eyes of another. There we see ourselves unmasked and know again one of the promise of life, which is love.