The influence of internal conflicts is often forgotten in couple counselling. George has been in a relationship with Steve for five years. They have great domestic creature comforts, good friends, holiday a lot, eat out a lot, party a lot – but deep down there is something amiss. Communication has become a bit strained – they are missing true understanding. Both Steve and George feel the other is hiding secrets; an undercurrent is evident and felt.
Maybe the main problem is really about their separate unhealed internal conflicts. George was heavily cheated upon in previous relationships and lacks trust; Steve feels he is not as capable as others, either at work or socially. So these secret internal conflicts are at play in their daily relationship. It is also easier for George to see and understand Steve’s blind spots, and vice versa. These are called blind spots for obvious reasons. Let’s check in here with your own blind spots.
What are you worried about, unsure of, confused by, lack confidence in, frightened by, or have experienced events you never truly understood or shared? Are you easily jealous, always anxious, addicting to something, have a sexual fear, have a poor body image or fear getting older?
We all also have different childhood experiences that have made the way we are as adults. It stands to reason if these personal internal conflicts are not healed then having them in the background will affect all relationships at a base level – at home, at work and at play.
George had an alcoholic father who verbally and, at times, physically abused him. Steve had an over protective mother who was obsessed with the body functions of her children and their cleanliness – these experiences, unless truly understood, will affect all present day interpersonal relationships. Healing internal personal conflicts will also greatly assist to improve the intimate relationship that George and Steve share.
If you are in a relationship and you consider you have unhealed internal conflicts then maybe it is time to address these first in individual counselling, before coming to couple therapy. You will feel empowered if you can clean your own slate first before negotiating changes in your relationship.
I often find in couple counseling, one partner wants me to take their side to tell the other they are wrong. Couple counselling is not about finding blame but more about negotiating new pathways. To do that partners need to reflect on the value of their own decisions – are they really the right ones all the time? Why do they react the way they do?
Personal therapy, to dilute the demons of our mind, can change our behaviour in all aspects in life. It can make us happier at work, socially, with our families and in our lives with our closest life partner.
Gerry North is a gay couple counsellor and also treats depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sexual matters and addictions. Email: [email protected]