Bryan Greene Psychotherapy & Couples Counselling in Bristol

Is Relationship Therapy worth it?

If you are on this website and wondering whether, with all the difficulties in your relationship, counselling is going to be worth the time, effort and money, here are 4 important factors to consider:

1.When you fell in love and chose to be with the person you are with, this was neither an accident nor a mistake. It was, and still is, an opportunity for something great!

The thrust of life is to improve, to become greater, to evolve. And so life will always present us with opportunities to do so. We choose a particular partner because we instinctively and mostly unconsciously recognize the opportunity to grow and develop as a person. Imago Relationship Therapy can support you in this process and provide you with the necessary tools to grow and to significantly improve your relationship

2.It is in understanding the difficulties in your relationship and learning how to overcome them, that you can grow and develop.

When we feel frustrated, upset or angry with something our partner has said or done, deeper down there is either hurt or fear or both. A sensitive spot in us has been triggered and we react to defend ourselves, usually by fighting back or withdrawing. In Imago Relationship Therapy you will get to recognize and understand your sensitive spots, where they came from in your past and learn how to respond instead of reacting to your feelings and your partners’. This will help you to stay relational, despite your frustrated feelings, and able attend to your sensitivities in a way that is healing and connecting.

3.The only person you can change in a relationship is yourself.

When our sensitive spots are triggered in a relationship, we try to get our partner to change the way they are behaving towards us. Our partners resist and try and change us in return, often because their sensitive spots are now being triggered. This, in Imago Relationship Therapy, is called the “power struggle”. We both want to be right and want our partners to feel, think and behave as we do instead of accepting that we are different and that there can be another perspective of the same situation. With the help of Imago Relationship Therapy, you can start to take responsibility for your feelings instead of holding your partner responsible for them. You can start to heal your sensitive spots and, as they become less sensitive, not only will you grow as a person, but you will become less reactive and your relationship more connected, harmonious and affectionate. Taking responsibility for your feelings becomes a win, win situation!

4.If you cannot resolve your difficulties in this relationship you will most probably take them into the next.

If we are unable to learn how to manage our feelings and reactivity differently, and learn to respond rather than react, we will end up either continually dissatisfied and unfulfilled in our relationship, or move apart and separate. We will then most likely face the same challenges in our next relationship. Learning to relate is an ongoing process of healing and growth. Better to get the help you need from an Imago Relationship Therapist whilst you have the opportunity. The time, effort and money it takes will be well worth it and will no doubt save you time, effort and money separating and starting all over again.

How to Stop Arguing

Are you tired of the repetitive arguments about even the smallest of things, like the right way to load a dishwasher or who left the lights on? Do you find this drains your energy and the life out of your relationship? Then stop!

Easy to say, but how can this become a reality?

Here is a four-step guide that once integrated can get you to place where there is always an alternative to arguing ever and where the energy wasted in arguing can instead be put into deepening and enhancing your relationship.

1. You are probably different to each other in many ways:

It is a law of physics that opposites attract. There is nothing to be gained, as a human being trying to grow and evolve, by being attracted to someone like you. That may feel safe and comfortable, but it would be boring and static. You may well have a lot in common, and perhaps this is what bought you together. However, from the perspective of Imago, you have been instinctively attracted to someone who sees and experiences the world differently to you, perhaps has different values or priorities, a different approach to everyday life. It is our differences that are going to add value and help us grow as individuals. So rather than be threatened by our differences we would do well to be curious about them, to value and learn from them, rather than trying to get our partner to think and behave as we do. The first step to not arguing therefore is to realise, accept and allow that you are different.

2. The underlying dynamic between you is always 50/50:

When two people come together there is a resultant chemistry. These two people maybe different but they are also equal. The resultant chemistry is therefore contributed to 50/50. When you blame, you are trying to hold the other responsible for more than 50% of the issue. Your partner will not accept this and so will defend and argue back. However, you cannot be right and have a relationship! The more you insist on being right the more you are making the other wrong and the more your partner is likely to react. This is not relational. In a relationship there are two rights, two different perspectives of the same situation. As long as you hold on to even the smallest of margins, i.e., you are being 49% responsible and your partner 51%, there will be an imbalance of equality, a power struggle, and arguments will always perpetuate. So, the second step to not arguing is to realise and fully accept that the dynamic between you is ALWAYS 50/50 and, as in the first step, allow your partner to have a different view, and get curious about this rather than indignant.

3. You will inevitably attract and be attracted to someone who is perfectly wired to trigger your buttons:

When we become adults and leave home there will always be unresolved issues with our parents or carers. Even if our parents were “perfect” we would probably have issues about being perfect. Our parents had parents and were subject to their conditioning and so we too were parented and related to in a certain way. As children we did not have the capacity, the emotional maturity, to resolve all our differences with our parents. We leave home with sensitive spots. For example, we might be sensitive to criticism or to not getting enough attention, or to getting too much attention. There will always be some unresolved sensitive spots and because of the innate drive in us to heal and grow we will be drawn into a relationship where our sensitivities get exposed. In the romantic phase of relationship Cupid blinds us to this fact. We would probably not get together in the first place otherwise. However, when romantic love fades, as it inevitably will, we start to trigger each other’s sensitive spots and get into a reactive pattern. This is creating the opportunity for healing and growth however when we get caught in arguing and reactive patterns growth is restricted and we feel stuck. So, the third step to not arguing is to realise that when we get into a reactive pattern this is an opportunity for growth rather than a reason to move apart.

4. So, how can we grow from our differences rather than argue about them?

Unless you have a reliable alternative to arguing that helps you to understand both of your sensitivities, to resolve your differences and realise the potential in your relationship, you will remain in a repetitive, reactive cycle. The Imago Intentional Dialogue is a tool you can learn to use which, once integrated, means you will always have an alternative to arguing. The Imago Dialogue is a safe, mutually respectful way of speaking and listening to each other, about even the most sensitive of issues. It can help you to listen, understand, validate and empathise with each other and help you both heal and grow as individuals, whilst also deepening your relationship. An Imago Therapist and/or an Imago workshop will help you understand all these stages, teach you this dialogue and support you in using it effectively.

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