Looking at it I find myself reflecting on how often, actually most often, I see that my couples feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, and at a loss for words when their partner is deeply sharing a pain point in their life together.
The instinct is to move on. To avoid revisiting painful memories. To lock them away and throw away the key. I hear a lot of; “how long are you going to punish me for this”, “how many times do I have to apologize”, “why are you so addicted to drama”, “we have so many good things in our relationship and you are ruining it by bringing up this shit from the past”. I could go on and on!
The challenge with this strategy is that it destroys intimacy. Intimacy is analogous to “into me see”. When I share with my partner the moments that I haven’t been able to let go of, I am sharing the deepest and most vulnerable parts of myself. What I need in return is a genuine interest in my pain, a witnessing, a holding of the space between us as a container for healing.
I have been so deeply privileged to be a witness to incredible healing after what seems like unforgivable trespasses in a relationship. Simply by holding space, being curious about a partner’s experience, and not pulling away due to shame in having had a part in creating this pain.
The past IS over but it cannot be released until the inflictor of the pain has the ego strength to truly witness their partners felt experience from a place of open acceptance.
We are all in relationships on varying levels and relationships are laboratories in which we learn and grow. Keep experimenting friends. I see you becoming more and more of who you are.
Final thought: if you or your partner is not good at this, that is normal. Most of our families did not teach us how to heal relational pain. The good news is that we have the capacity to learn and the tools are abundantly available in couples therapy, in books, in videos you can watch on line. Even tiktok has some pretty good relationship videos by couples therapists.
Final final thought: if your partner refuses to do the work to help heal relational pain it may be time to consider that YOU are meant to be happy and loved in this life and proceed accordingly.
Final final final thought: not all couples therapist are created equal. Interview your therapist before proceeding. Make sure you both feel comfortable and that they can concisely express how they work with couples and what therapy with them will look like. Personally I think that homework in the form of reading, exercises and activities between sessions speed the process along. Ask for homework if it isn’t offered.
If are looking for help to get a handle in your busy reach visit our website https://www.lifeskillsresourcegroup.com/ or 407.355.7378 to schedule an appointment.
Cindy Fabico, MA, NCC, RYT200 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist MT2724 Licensed Mental Health Counselor MH8555 Founder & CoOwner Life Skills Resource Group