When couples come into therapy, they start ranting off the things they don’t like about each other, what’s not working.
When I start to inquire about what is working in their relationship, what they like in each other…silence. They look at me, at each other, their eyes showing sadness as they struggle to identify what they like and what still works.
Couples get stuck in conflict, pointing fingers, highlighting to each other what’s not working. When their needs feel unmet, they may start turning away from each other, or increase the fighting between them. This is when they enter therapy, ready to share with me, the third party ‘the conflict’ or ‘the fight of the day’ looking for answers, and wanting to find their happy again.
Which makes one of the first interventions for each couple, to go home, and look for things that are working, where they feel loved, appreciated, seen. When you shift the focus from what’s not working, to what is working, it gives opportunity to notice that there are still lots of good in your relationship. This isn’t an easy task, it asks you to be vigilant and challenge your autopilot of focusing on what’s not working. We all are too good at focusing on the bad–ways we aren’t enough, our partner isn’t doing enough, and we have to challenges ourselves (individually and in our relationships) to look for what works, what we are grateful for in our lives and relationships. This mind-shift, focusing on the positive, what works, what feels good, has a profound impact on our relationships with ourselves and others. It helps us start to take our defense and guard down, and see each other in a new light. Creating more fondness, happiness, fulfillment.
So, your “homework” is to start to look for things you like in yourself, and in your partner. Point them out to each other, express gratitude for what you’re noticing that you like (bonus: it’ll make you both want to do them more for each other). You’ll start seeing less of what you don’t like, and more of what you do!!