Many couples complain of lessening sexual intimacy. This usually is when couples are on the verge of separation or divorce. This is when a therapist is called into the picture. Beginning therapy can be daunting, intimidating, but there is hope after all the therapy work. Many couples who begin therapy have expectations about therapy might work. Some people want a map, the to do’s about how to fix everything. Other people need to open their hearts, have their pain become known. Others are angry, resentful towards their partner and want therapy to change the person they love, so they can be happy. All of these are normal, beginner expectations. Honestly, the beginning of therapy is about knowing what is broken and challenging belief systems and paradigms. The reason this is so important is because many people are taking personal responsibility for how their spouse or significant other is behaving in the relationship.
Internalizing, blaming yourself, holding yourself responsible for someone else’s behaviors and feelings is a huge part of marital issues. Early on in therapy, a lot of therapy time is spent trying to “unfuse” a couple from emotional fusion. Only after each person can see themselves as individuals (rather than as part of another), separate from the relational issues, can a person gain clarity about themselves. The foggy goggles can come off and real recovery work can begin. Anger & reactivity have to be reduced. Feelings of anger, resentment are normal in any relationship. But when a couple remains focused on this area of the relationship, this is a red flag that something much deeper is going on and requires investigation.
The resentment and anger cannot be the fixation. Although pain and anger point to essential issues and truths about how someone feels, these reactions do not indicate solutions or provide resolution. The reactivity only says, “hey, something is really wrong.” Each person’s experience of pain, frustration, and disappointment of the relationship is not the burden of the other person in the relationship. The disappointment belongs to the person experiencing it. Each person brings their unhealthiness to the table. The internal process of managing intimacy, conflict, responsibility, denial, etc. all comes from how we each learned about life growing up. That’s why internalizing, creating negative personal stories about someone else’s behaviors is a problem. This is emotional fusion, negative enmeshment. A lot of initial therapy time is spent trying assess for the fusion in order to “unfuse” a couple. Only after each person can see themselves as individuals (rather than as part of another), separate from the relational issues, can a person gain clarity about themselves. The foggy goggles can come off and real recovery work can begin. If you’re experiencing less sexual intimacy, try couples counseling. There is hope to be gained by doing the therapy work. May all of you have insight into your emotional issues and feel empowered to heal.