Relationship woes and experts

Intimate relationships are not always a stroll in the park, are they? They can feel quite challenging at times. 

Relationships were the focus of my work when Pentad opened its door over a decade ago. I held seminars for women, and I helped couples formulate pragmatic goals as a step forward out of stagnation. My every waking moment was consumed with these subjects.

The more I dug into the depths of common concepts taken for granted, the more frustrated I became at the media's portrayal of that which was supposed to work to save relationships, or what people should do to "spice" up their love lives. So little substance, and people eat it up. Why? Because they count on the media's use of experts. They count on expert mastership of knowledge.
I was frustrated, and I didn't have a magic bullet or formula I was trying to brand and sell.
I realize how many families are hurting out there, and children are affected in that mix. Countless tips and methods not only set people up to fail, but many end up feeling like failures. I realize the harshness of the statement, but it is my honest opinion.

I painfully sense that many are up in the lofty branches of a rotting tree, desperately attempting to paint dry leaves green, all the while ignoring the condition of the roots and trunk. I don't know. In the scheme of bigger and better, simplicity may not be fancy enough. Frilly quick solutions become mindset. They become a cultural standard, and even though people realize that they could not be further from the truth of the realities they live.

So, the process got me to thinking about how I could turn my own frustration into something a little more constructive. I wondered if there was anything I could share with people that may empower them in their search for answers and help, and especially those that feel confused about the 'who is who' in the expert environment.

I think the most important piece of information people should know when faced with an ocean of methods, is the fact that those working with these issues come from different academic backgrounds. This means that their perspectives, and therefore their focus and methods, are very much colored by their respective theoretical foundation.

Couples therapy is not necessarily considered a true science by the entire academic community. This doesn't mean that therapists are not excellent in helping people try to problem-solve and understand their lives. You will even find NLP practitioners working with individuals to solve their relationship difficulties. You will find specialists in personal development. You will find psychiatrists and social workers. And, you will find that psychologists and family therapists, historically, have couped the field as the largest groups.

Although a couple of specialists (such as John Gottman) work to elevate its status through the scientific method, couples therapy has primarily been one of trial and error. Methods are evidence-based. Please keep all of this in mind each time a new theory or magic bullet is lanced in the media.

Academic tradition may inform people which therapy is the acceptable norm (and, the historical foundation of this is a discussion entirely unto itself), yet not all methods feel comfortable for all individuals. To be quite honest, people are just looking for something that works. Something that helps them move forward.

This became clear to me as the majority of those requesting my services were men. It was a revelation. Statistically, it is not men that tend to seek help for their relationship woes. Their female partners do. Generally, females seek help when communication needs are on the table, and many times already have one foot out the door. They feel they are at their wit's end. Yet, men often times feel as though nothing else is happening than 'talking'. They provided feedback that the planning/goal setting aspect of the services appealed to them. They were more than willing to get the ball rolling and step up to the plate, if there was something they could DO to enable it.

We human beings are beautifully complex, and equally so in our interactions and relationships. There is no magic bullet. Put the consumer mindset in you aside for a moment, and ask yourself a few honest questions.

Ask yourself, "What is it that I really need and want?".

What would help? There is a vast pool of knowledge and expertise out there ready to help you get to work. Is it communication that needs improvement in your relationship? Is there an aspect of personal development you personally feel would make a difference? Do you need an expert practical planner that could help make everyday life more manageable? Or, is it a matter of finding interests to share? What do you argue about? Where lies the resentment?  Which themes are present? Many times our needs are more simplistic than we think. 

Start there, and see what happens. It may take a while for the answers to bubble up to the surface, but surface they will. 

"Courage means to keep working a relationship, to continue seeking solutions to difficult problems, and to stay focused during stressful periods." -Denis Waitley-

Stay safe and warm wishes,
Tamera Daun

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