Couple relation model
Today couples can choose their lifestyle. This may be experienced as freedom but it opens up many old and new issues to cope with. We build families because of the tradition, because the state supports family and partnership institutes, because we have emotional needs to be connected to our loved ones.
Our model of relating in couples, based on Gestalt psychotherapy seeks to answer:
what kind of relationships in couples (married, cohabiting, heterosexual, queer etc.) are meaningful and sustainable?
The relationship that partners experience as alive and evolving. The relationship that brings happiness often (not always). The relationship that is based on differentiation in couples. Differentiation that can be both internal – when wants are discriminated from requirements, emotions from thoughts – and interpersonal, constant back and forth of contact and withdrawal of partners.
Couples lives are regulated by cultural norms and standards of "the proper way". But couples can't create satisfying relationships by blindly following these norms. It doesn't help to look for answers in norms and traditions, ignoring your and your partner's needs.
The quality of couple relationship is the source of emotional well-being.
This relationship builds up by nearing, contacting, and withdrawing. This constant movement between contact and withdrawal is necessary both for the sense of connection and the sense of self. That’s how a couple lives the basic human dilemma – how to be connected with another and maintain a self.
We live in a world that often considers family based on fusion of two individuals. Robert and Rita Resnick, gestalt psychotherapists from Los Angeles, challenge this idea and expectations stemming from it: “two become one and then there are none”. In a fused relationship, neither of the partners can differentiate and grow. They can't move from closeness to distance and back without tripping over each other.
Rita and Robert Resnick said that this act of subtle balancing between being a separate person and fully present in the relationship may often be disappointing for couples.
All of these themes are relevant for couples: boundaries and transgressions, power, autonomy, meaning making, relationship roles, stereotypes, cultural and behavior differences, intimacy, life choices. Partners experience differences and react to them, often resorting to their commonalities. It’s the focus on the differences that is core to this model: when partners differ, they discover new ways to uncover the root of their disagreements, revive their relationship, and develop personally.
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