Pre-marital and couples counselling is all about communication, expectations, conflict management, commitment, spirituality and many things, but the essence lies in the power of awareness – awareness why I do, think and feel the way I do. Being aware brings me a step closer to understanding, understanding brings me a step closer to presence and presence a step closer to reflection. What is the motivation behind the way I behave?
Seeing couples, I am always amazed when they refer to the fact that they are so different from one another. Will it ever work? Then I present them with the question: Try and imagine in a typical day being exactly the same as your partner. Then, an amazing thing happens: “Okay, but I think that will not work so well – then we will both be active controllers – we would most probably kill one another, or we would both be so intensely creative that we might bypass the real world, or we will both be visionaries running ahead with no brakes to stop us.”
Do the challenge and dynamics in a relationship journey not reside in a combination of these uniqueness’s? Being a visionary and energiser, I need my friend/partner to slow me down – to provide a peaceful perspective. As a quiet specialist living in a world of my own – I need an energiser, entertainer to draw me back to reality.
But then, so often our motivation behind our behaviour pops up. Those basic instincts that sometimes have been so “distorted” in our childhood. Motivations can be anything from: “I have to understand the world, I have to be in control, I have to be safe, I have to do the right thing, and I have to keep the balance.” The question is, how do these motivations impact on our relationships? In a relationship context [focusing on behaviour] one partner/friend can be preoccupied with getting and maintaining physical safety and comfort, which often translates into concerns about food, money, housing and physical health. The other partner/friend is concerned with maintaining the sense of value they get from participating in activities with others, be it family, group, community, so they like to feel involved, and they enjoy interacting with others for common purposes. So, physical safety and comfort marry interacting with others on a regular basis. In this context the drama in this relationship may unfold in: “You are more interested in connecting with others, socializing and so on while I have to worry about our finances and see to the house” – vice versa – “You stress so much about our life, health and financial situation that you become socially distant and totally miss out on life.”” Worst scenario – most of the time the EGO’s voice plays out: I am right and you are wrong!!
So, we have DNA , a certain uniqueness about us, we have motivations behind our behaviour [formed by our childhood patterns….], but, we have even more……society (religion, the socio economic, political voices)– telling us what is proper, best, cool, in, out, good, bad, etc. That voice telling us that being yourself, having the things that you have are not enough, there is always more, always better, awaiting somewhere. So we build our dreams according to a 5 year plan, we structure our families accordingly, we listen and become attached to “distorted” faith messages telling us what to belief and how to do it – and we miss out on the here and the now – on what we actually have. We all need to become a lot of things other than ourselves.
So logic tells me that in our relationships, the ultimate will be:
- an awareness of our uniqueness and being OK with it;
- an awareness that our expectations were created from our own incompleteness, our falling dreams and that this can be a motivation towards our behaviour;
- to be sensitive towards the specific life stage journey me/my partner reside in at the moment
- to challenge the prevailing discourses in society.
- to know this is a first step in a much longer journey to come.
Medical rates apply
Presenter: Annemien Bauermeister