When working in therapy with couples, a balance is attempted between togetherness and separateness. Too much togetherness kills passion and desire. Too much separateness creates too much distance and kills love. The main focus of couple’s therapy is to break too much togetherness also known as symbiosis. Symbiosis is normal in the beginning of a relationship. We bond over sameness.
When working in therapy with couples, a balance is attempted between togetherness and separateness. Too much togetherness kills passion and desire. Too much separateness creates too much distance and kills love.
The main focus of couple’s therapy is to break too much togetherness also known as symbiosis. Symbiosis is normal in the beginning of a relationship. We bond over sameness.
The goal of couple’s therapy is to learn to understand that, “I am separate from you but still able to connect”. You and your partner need to realize that you are very different human beings and that you are not going to die nor is your relationship living within those differences.
#1 Way To Balance Your Relationship In Couple’s Therapy: Separateness
In couple’s therapy you’ll learn your need to recognize who your partner is, separate from you. After the symbiotic time of romantic love, back when you were bonding over everything you have in common, , your ongoing relationship requires your realizing that your partner is different from you. Real love cannot begin until symbiosis ends. Your partner thinks, acts, and talks differently than you—and should! But both of you can exist within those differences.
Here are some typical symbiotic statements I hear in Couples Therapy:
- “I am [or should be] in your awareness at all times.”
- “I am your one and only.”
- “I know you want me.”
- “You know [or should know] what I want.”
- “We want the same things and if we don’t that is bad.”
In couple’s therapy, I initiate a conversation about something that the partners doesn’t agree about. I let one of them talk while the other listens without interruption or disagreeing. Then, after the other partner shares in the same way, I ask them both to acknowledge that inasmuch as each has a different perspective, neither one is “right” or “wrong.” This is difficult, takes time to learn and become comfortable in doing, but it’s the most crucial step in every relationship. It’s better to feel connected than to be in the right! Once you acknowledge differences, then solutions can surface and you can make healthy decisions that will work for the relationship.
#2 Way To Balance Your Relationship in Couples Therapy: Togetherness
At the beginning of any relationship—a time for bonding and attaching—togetherness is easy. You will focus on everything you have in common. But here are some examples I hear in couples therapy of destructive symbiotic thinking:
- “You think [or ought to think] the way I feel.”
- “You must feel the way I feel.”
- “You must want exactly what I want.”
- “You see things the same way I do.”
- “You hear and understand what I hear.”
- “Your tastes are identical to mine.”
- “You experience life the same way I do.”.
The way to escape symbiosis while still creating togetherness is to create a mutual vision. In couple’s therapy, we achieve that mutual vision by having both partners create an exhaustive list of everything they personally want within the relationship. Each list needs to be very specific, positive and measurable. After making their lists, the partners each read theirs to the other. Together they create a third list we call their mutual vision, consisting only of items that both agree on. If one partner’s list has any person, goal, or value that the other doesn’t agree to, then it’s not included on their mutual vision list.
This honors sameness, not symbiosis and gives each partner time and freedom to enjoy togetherness—where they both honestly agree.