Architecting Your Own Intimacy – Repairing, Rebuilding & Creating Love
I have been deep in writing a new web-based and interactive program to help couples (or any two people) connect more fully and resolve conflicts, bringing harmony and peace to their relationship. This is something that I have been working on for nearly two years (and with some months to go before it is complete).
How I make my own life meaningful, and what inspires me, is the process of focusing on and stepping into the dark parts of myself, my relationships and my world in order to bring light, peace, beauty and love into those areas that are un-enlightened, fearful, suffering or in pain. As I look at the trauma and darkness in the world around me, this feels especially pertinent at this time. For me, life is a metaphor of bringing light into our own darkness, whether it is external in the outer world, or internal, in my own self and process. Consequently, bringing harmony, peace and love into our lives and relationships is a process that I am deeply involved in.
Because I grew up in an environment with emotional trauma, conflict and disconnection, and have spent years not only undoing the damage caused by that, transforming my own negative parts, and expanding and developing myself, this mission is close to my heart. I believe that we can all learn to engage in the ‘underground’ processes of healing, and collaborate and support each other in this endeavor.
Over the years of working both as a therapist and a couples’ therapist I have come to believe that something more is needed to help all of us with our relationships. Many of us just don’t have the skills we need. Therapy has limitations due to its cost, and many therapists, though effective with individuals, don’t have the specialized training needed to be effective when working with couples. The time constraints of people’s busy lives, and the stigma that therapy has for some also inhibit people seeking help. Additionally, I have wanted to expand out of working one-to-one to a place where I could do more writing and impact a larger group.
I began to think about a low cost way to ‘teach’ people while overcoming these obstacles. I began to wonder if I could make experiential relationship help available to the many who cannot afford couples counseling – a place where they could learn, while collaborating and supporting each other. I found the idea exciting, although scary. Am I wasting my time? Can this actually be done and can I do it? Couples therapy is hard enough with a therapist in the room. How could it possibly work on the web?
One day, a web programmer friend was visiting. As he talked about his web-based product, a light bulb went off. ‘This can be done,’ I thought. At the time, I was continuing in advanced training in couple’s therapy. So along with my knowledge of self-growth and healing and my ability to write, all the pieces were there. Thus began the birth of WeConcile™.
Let me present some broad ideas about what needs to happen in any ‘self growth’ endeavor by starting with some observations and analogies.
I was watching TV the other night and a dancer/choreographer whose name I don’t remember was talking on a panel. The other 4 people on the panel were not dancers. I was very aware of how evolved this man’s body and being appeared, how he moved his arms and gestured when he talked, how he carried himself, how his body and self seemed much more alive than the others. It was clear that as a dancer, he had developed a relationship to his body, lets call it his mind/body, extensively, and in a way the others had not. In comparison, they appeared almost unintelligent.
In contrast to those who are highly developed, are those of us who are ‘regular,’ with more typical levels of skill and ability.
And then there are those of us who have been deprived, neglected or even abused in some way while we were developing. Our development has actually been suppressed, leaving us with gaps in our skill set, or perhaps having to adapt, almost the way a tree that is growing under a large object has to bend and twist and turn to find its way to the sun, or how one that is growing in bad soil or a harsh environment may end up smaller.
This is the spectrum, ranging from the full development of one’s capacity, even beyond what most people do, through the realm of normal, all the way to a place where there are scars or underdevelopment caused by abuse or limitations.
Lets apply these ideas to relationships. Successful relationships often require all three things:
- The correcting of places where our development had been hindered (which we are often unaware of, but our partners will be feeling the consequence of.)
- The healing of actual emotional wounds that cause reactivity and pain.
- The further development of our potential in ways that surpass the current norm, as the ‘normal’ level of relationship skills alone often isn’t sufficient to have a truly satisfying relationship at this time in history.
In overcoming a deficit or injury, we may actually have to overcompensate and develop capacities that are generally greater than what the ‘regular’ person has.
Given that relationships often bring up anything that is undeveloped or unhealed in ourselves, how do you get a relationship that is more peaceful, harmonious and loving? Lets switch contexts for just a moment and look at a similar but different question.
How do you get a healthier body? You have to look at what you are feeding the body, how you are using it and taking care of it. We can put it in a list:
- Learn and apply over time the guidelines of nutrition
- Learn and apply over time appropriate exercise
- Learn and apply over time the reduction of stress
- Attend to and heal any injuries
- Build up and support any areas of weakness
- Utilize a community of people who continue to develop these ideas and/or provide support.
That was easy. We all know how to create a healthier body, whether we have the support to do it or not. But we don’t all know how to create healthier relationships. In fact, creating a healthier relationship can be incredibly difficult – just look at the divorce statistics. But the same principles apply. Lets look at what it will take:
- Education – feeding your body new guidelines of ‘relational nutrition.’
- Exercise – experiential exercises to help you ‘rewire’ and develop aspects of your brain to improve your ‘relation-ability.’
- Communication exercises, tools and guidelines to help you and your partner learn to communicate in a different and more supportive way.
- Questions and exercises to identify and attend to old wounds.
- Questions and exercises to identify and attend to areas needing development.
- A community of others who are involved in the same process and willing to talk about it and support each other.
So like changing your body, changing yourself or your relationship requires education and knowledge over time. It requires the application of that education and knowledge allowing for new habits to build, and support, whether from a therapist, a friend, or a community of like-minded others.
The first question I ask a couple or family unit who is coming to see me is, “What do you want?” Or “What do the two of you want?” Generally the answer I get is: “We want to get along, we want to stop fighting, we want a peaceful, harmonious and loving relationship.”
This is what WeConcile™ will help you do. It should be out by the end of the 2013.