Tanya : September 30, 2013 9:20 pm : Blog

Missing Conversations

People start acting in crazy, confused, offenseive and desparate ways, when they are unable to say important things that they need to say” Daniel B. Wile

The common belief is that to be in a good relationship partners need to have common interests, get along, have common goals and sexual compatibility. It is based on these denomimators that we usualy judge our relationship as being satisfying or not. When one of the partners feels unhappy, needs like “getting along” and not being satisfied then become a reason why a relationship goes sour. What partners dont realize is that what is actually missing are certain conversations. Conversations, where the couple talk about their worries, wishes, fantasies, and disapointmetns, particularily those about their relationship. There have to be conversations about the perpetual relationship issues. One might think that talking about these things can create more distance but the point is that by confiding to your partner you are breaking out of shutting down, being cut off and/or struggling in isolation; efforts that contribute to disconnections in the first place. Expressing fear, worry, anger and disappintment can diminish or elinimate those fears, worries, anger and disapointmetns. As Dan Wile says, “Whenever you find yourself less satisfied with, less in love with, less turned on by, more walled off from, more digruntled with or more bored with your partner, look for feelings, wishes and worries or complaints that you are not telling him or her and that she or he is not telling you and see if there is the way to talk with your partner about them.”

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Tanya : September 29, 2013 3:00 am : Blog

Expectations and Disappointments

Expectations can bring wonderful energy and growth to our relationships. They help us to inspire and become inspred rather than simply accept the mediocre. When expectations provide room for both fulfillment of our agreements and acceptance of disappointments and imperfections as legitimate condition of existence they come from healthy mature places inside us.

The alternative is entitlement characterized by uncompromised demands. When we look at our relationship through lenses of preconceived notions of what it is supposed to be, what our partner is supposed to give us or how she or he is supposed to look or behave we cling to our illusions and keep manipulating our partners to become actors in our own dramas. The inner life of a person is intricate and multifaceted and requires diverse experiences to cultivate both maturation and growth. Therefore disappointments play an important role in our lives as they help to break down our projections about others perfection or trustworthiness and help us to arrive at realism and see people as combinations of contradictions. Anyone can please and displease, fulfill and disappoint. But when we act on our expectations and react to our disappointments with regret about how foolish we are to love our partner and blame him or her for failing us we prevent ourselves from growing.

What do we do with expectations then? We can try to give them up but can come to realize this can be difficult to do. Tossing them out the window can limit further exploratinos as well. The perfect balance is that we do not use expectations as the lens through which we view our relationship and our partner. Rather we use them as important clues to our own life long yearnings that are important to bring out into the open The psychologist John Gottman states that behind each instance of couples gridlock or their intrenched positions are hidden dreams and important meanings.

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Tanya : September 23, 2013 11:07 pm : Blog


It is said that our greatest fear is not realizing ourselves to be imperfect but rather that we are seen by our partner as unacceptable.

We often see in couples one or both partners who, while acting with the most sincere intention (often coming from a place of love and desire to help their partner) show the other they are unacceptable by trying to fix or change them in times when they are experiencing distress and needing it to be seen and understood.

When a relationship does not provide an intentional space for allowing, inevitably, over time one of the partners can feel that they have lost their voice and sense of self in the relationship. They may start feeling desperate and grow to believe that the only way they can get themself back is to get away from the other person. They may go further inside themselves or as a last resort, leave the relationship entirely.

Rather than trying to change our partner and helping them to rid themselves of the impure aspects of self which we often perceive to be the cause of their distress we can choose to embrace them for their realness. A realness that is sometimes broken, messy and yet mysterious and vibrantly alive. In doing so we open them up and mirror back to them their acceptability they most desire.

By cultivating an unconditional accepting presence we no are no longer holding them in a battle against their imperfect self and in doing so keeping them in a cage of judgement, mistrust and unacceptability. We are giving them freedom to become authentic, fully alive and able to thrive. Carl Jung described this feeling when he charactorized our spiritual path as an unfolding to wholeness.

With intentional allowing by both partners a balance exists where both realties are valid in their own right. These realities can coexist allowing each person their own defined self. Allowing creates a holding environment where both partners and the relationship can flourish towards wholeness.

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Tanya : July 14, 2013 9:57 pm : Blog

Good People in Good Marriages are Having Affairs

A common misconception is that infidielity occurs to people who are intentionally seeking thrills and sexual adventures. Though this happens, what we commonly see in the process of helping couples is that infidelity mostly occurs between people who unwhittingly form deep connections outside their relationship before realizing that they crossed the boundary of platonic friendship into romantic connection. Contrary to some popular thought most people had good intentions and had not planned to stray. How do we miss seeing the danger: from signs of emotional intimacy to inability to stop once we are deeply involved. Part of the problem is that we underestimate human nature and the fact that when we open ourselves to secret emotional intimacy in “friendly relationships” we can slowly move to the slippery slope of infidelity. This is strongly evidenced by the reality that in many couples it was discovery that stopped infidelity rather than self realization. Only once caught do we realize that we did not only betray our partner but also our own morals and beliefs, provoking deep moral crisis as well as maritial.

Once discovered, the infidelity becomes a traumatic event for the betrayed partner. People faced with finding out about their parnters affair commonly react as if they were viciously attacked. Instantly their assumptions about the relationships are violated and shattered. They can lose a sense of self, a sense that the future is predictable and can have a sense of extreme loss of control. Common statements that reflect this termoil are: I dont know you, you arent the person I thought you were, and our relationship is not what I thouthg it was.

Because the experience is often highly traumatic, the process of recovery can become like stearing a ship through a storm. Careful guidance is of great importance. Unfortunately many people recieve advice from helpers, both professional as well as from well intentioned friends and family members that is value laden rather than considering of the complexity of the individual responses and relationship dynamics in the face of this type of attachment trauma.

Couples first require support in containing emotional turmoil and destructive exchanges that often characterize intial responses to the discovery of an affair. Strategies aimed at re-establishing a sense of safety, predicability and help to regain a sense of control are required. Once strong emotional reaction are able to be managed the work to restablish trust and intimacy can begin and couples begin to gain new insights and behaviours that can strengthen them as individuals and as a couple and help them to explore and establish meaning around the affair.

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Tanya : July 18, 2012 3:36 am : Blog

We seem to have trouble in solving so many of our problems. Does this mean that we are poor match?

When we have relationship problems what we all naturally want to do is to solve them. We carry this expectation of ourselves and feel like failures if we do not succeed. The reality in the context of relationships, however, is that most problems are unsolvable. This might be surprising for many of us, but according to John Gottman only 31 % of couple’s major areas of disagreement are about resolvable problems, 69 % are about unresolvable issues.

Imagine another thirty years of struggling with the same problems from which you have been suffering from the beginning of the relationship. Each partner might think that they are poorly matched and might be better off to be married to someone else.

Dan Wile, in his book After the Honeymoon wrote that “choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems”. He noted that problems would be a part of any relationship, and that a particular person would have some set of problems no matter who that person married. Lets explore this reality a little….. Paul married Alice, and Alice gets loud at parties and Paul, who is shy, hates that. But if Paul had married Susan, he and Susan would have gotten into a fight before they even got to the party. That’s because Paul is always late and Susan hates to be kept waiting. She would feel taken for granted, which she is very sensitive about. Paul would see her complaining about this as her attempt to dominate him, which he is very sensitive about. If Paul had married Gail, they wouldn’t have even gone to the party because they would still be upset about an argument they had the day before about Paul’s not helping with the housework. To Gail, when Paul does not help she feels abandoned, which she is sensitive about, and to Paul, Gail’s complaining is an attempt at domination, which he is sensitive about. The same is true about Alice. If she had married Steve, she would have the opposite problem, because Steve gets drunk at parties and she would get so angry at his drinking that they would get into a fight about it. If she had married Lou, she and Lou would have enjoyed the party but then when they got home the trouble would begin when Lou wanted sex because he always wants sex when he wants to feel closer, but sex is something Alice only wants when she already feels close.

Wile also wrote: “…there is value, when choosing a long-term partner, in realizing that you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or fifty years.”

The reality is that successful couples are not defined by having common interests or common goals, by an ability to get along or an ability to communicate so that they have few arguments, nor by sexual compatibility. It is simply learning to communicate in a way that allows each to express what they feel and need in a way that is heard. In another words saying what you need to say and the feeling that it has gotten across. It is this simple process that makes common interests, friendship, having sex and doing things together enjoyable and worthwhile things to do.

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