Couples and reactive, reciprocal cycles
"Couples find themselves in reactive cycles that are escalating and taking up more space in their relationship."
"We act in ways to protect the self and in my view, a large part of therapy is to actually look at those strategies and begin to question and modify them...to disarm their survival strategies, to put down their shields and talk in more direct and genuine ways about their fears, needs, and yearnings..."
"...becoming intentional in the ways that we relate to our partner and not always relating in automatic ways...helping couples move from reactivity to reflection."
Source: Michele Scheinkman discussing The Vulnerability Cycle on The Ackerman Podcast
"...desire, like hunger and sleep, cannot be willed, forced, or simply negotiated; it must arise out of a context of optimal conditions...I think that it is possible for couples to reconcile attachment and desire in their long-term relationships, but only when they are able to create a context for desire to thrive, even if only intermittently. This context must include the delicate balance of separateness and togetherness, responsibility and freedom, and transparency and mystery...Separateness, privacy, and mystery do not need to be dirty words in couple relationships; for many couples, these are actually the missing ingredients needed to foster or maintain passion." p. 240
Source: Scheinkman, Michele (2005). Beyond the trauma of betrayal: Reconsidering affairs in couple therapy. Family Process, 44(2).
Self-esteem and 'imperfection'
"Healthy self-esteem is holding yourself in positive regard in light of imperfections. Imperfection doesn't mean you are a bad person, it just means you are a person."
Terry Real speaking at "Narcissism and Infidelity: An Integrative Approach to Couples Therapy" workshop in Toronto (April 1, 2016).
A shared belief
This statement aligns closely with my ethics in therapy and the way that I choose to view others. I want to learn about people and who they are beyond the problems they are faced with.
"People are more than the worst thing they have ever done. I learned this in activist work for the abolition of the death penalty, and from invitations to see the humanity of people who were on death row and later executed." (p. 36)
Source: Reynolds, V. (2011). Resisting burnout with justice-doing. The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work. (4) 27-45.
"I think of compassion as a natural result that comes from actually paying attention. That means we can continue to cultivate it." (2:12)
The inner child
This passage reminds me of the importance of staying connected to our playful and imaginative inner child throughout life.
"On their way back they walked fast. Sometimes they trotted but did not run. Jumping, dallying, splashing, were all abandoned, and the noises they'd made on their way out, the hoots and howls, were put aside as well. Any windfall of the flood was taken note of but passed by. In fact they made their way as adults would do, at a fairly steady speed and by the most reasonable route, with the weight on them of where they had to go and what had to be done next. They had something close in front of them, a picture in front of their eyes that came between them and the world, which was the thing most adults seemed to have." (p. 11)
Source: "The Love of a Good Woman" by Alice Munro
Resilience, love and loss
Viktor speaks of what aided him in surviving Nazi death camps and focuses on his love and relationship with his wife, with whom he was separated from and had no knowings of her wellbeing. Reading these passages remind me of the relationships that people retain and nurture with loved ones who have died. While the physical relationship has ended, often a relationship with the person continues in other ways...
"Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present., whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance." (p. 38)
"I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail); but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved". (p.38)
Source: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl
"When people talk about their fears, often they're really pondering their values"
"Infidelity doesn't necessarily point to flaws in the relationship. Such partners see the affair as less a statement about the marriage than a statement about themselves. When we seek the gaze of another, it isn't always our partner we're turning away from, but the person we ourselves have become."
"I believe that genuine trust rests on our ability to tolerate what we don't know about the other, and as long as we're driven to uncover every detail, we can't trust."
"Most of us in the West today will have two or three marriages or committed relationships in our lifetime. For those daring enough to try, they may find themselves having all of them with the same person. An affair may spell the end of a first marriage, as well as the beginning of a new one."
Source: "After The Storm" by Esther Perel (2010)
I love to read and I am often moved by the words and insights of others. Here is a collection of thoughts, reflections, and ideas that resonate with me and inform my therapy work.