Tell me more

One of the most valuable skills that anyone can practice in a relationship is to say to the other person, “tell me more”.

This is so when the relationship is exciting, comfortable, or if there are just easy, neutral feelings between the two of you.  It is also true when you are in a conflict with someone whom you love or really care about.

If you are willing to be curious, to listen deeply, to stay engaged and to empathize, and to try to see through the other person’s lens, you are then being skillful.   Of course, you can only meet another person half way.   You cannot make them meet you half way.  When you are in a relationship where both individuals are committed to each other, asking each other to “tell me more” will only enhance the possibilities between you.

When conflict does arise,  you will have a basis for resolution.

Emotional intensity often accompanies conflict. The temptation is to continue to fight and to blame the other person for the impasse that lies between you.

Yes, it is always important to define yourself, to make your position clear.

There does come a point when to continue to restate your position is no longer useful.  Certainly, to blame or tolerate being blamed, not only does no good, it actually is harmful.

It is not always easy to say “tell me more”.  It is so tempting to dig in and stay with just insisting that you are right.  Sometimes, if you are fighting for a just cause, that is the very thing to do.

You can fight  to resolve or fight to win. Even if you are fighting to win and want to achieve a result that will last, you will have to understand who the other person is, and how they arrive at their point of view.

There is an exception.  That is when you are in a relationship with someone who is being physically or emotionally abusive to you or anyone else.  The exception also applies if you are causing physical harm to anyone.  Then the solution is not to experience more, but rather to end the interaction as soon as possible.  If there is no real possibility of change in a dangerous situation, ending the relationship is the best solution.

All of this is true in long term committed relationships between Life Partners, Spouses or those in Civil Unions.  Also if the relationship is with parents or members of your extended family.  Or if the relationship is with your children.  The same applies in friendship, or in any relationship that matters to you.

When the goal is to deepen a relationship that is already viable, or when there is real potential of deepening a new relationship, “tell me more” is an essential skill to have in your relationship portfolio.

What does it mean to deepen a relationship?  That is the subject of another blog entry.

This Blog

This blog is my attempt to share some of what I know about relationships and how psychotherapy works.  I write as a seasoned psychotherapist and as a person.  I still have a lot to learn.

I work primarily with Couples.  I also see individuals.  I have a sub- specialty in Sex Therapy.

Depending on the way you count I have been doing my work since the end of 1969.  I received my Masters Degree in Social Work in 1973.  Throughout my two years of Graduate School I practiced psychotherapy through supervised Internships.  It has always seemed like an uninterrupted process to me.

Nothing that I will write will be truly original.  Everything has been said before.  I just prefer my way of describing things to the way others might discuss the same ideas.  Sometimes change is remembering what you already know.  The previous sentence is an example of what I read in a book a long time ago and have since heard many times.  I don’t remember the author’s name.

Whenever I write something that came from someone whom I know, or from books that I have read, or presentations that I have attended, I will do my best to give credit where it is do.  If I forget or fail to mention someone, please know that it has not been intentional.  I have no desire to plagiarize.  I have humility about the work that I do and the many ways to approach it.  I feel the same way about many of my colleagues in the field.

I believe that I have learned the difference between arrogance and affirmation.  I intend to affirm.

Since I was a child, long before I attained professional credentials, I have been a student of relationships.  I am sure that came in part from the challenges that arose in the Multi-Generational family system that I came from.  Don’t get me wrong.  Everyone comes from an imperfect family.  I feel lucky to have come from my own family.  I hope that my children and grandchildren will feel the same way.

There are not many people in the world who have the privilege of doing work that they love and work that they were “meant to do”.  I am extremely fortunate to be in that situation.  I might be making up the “meant to do” part, but that is my experience.

I try never try to lay spirituality on others.  I must say that my own spirituality informs my work and my life.  It is very personal.

I am a better talker than I am a writer.  I hope that I can lend clarity to what I write. I will attempt to share what I have learned, and am learning, about relationships and the process of psychotherapy.  I hope that what I write will be useful to readers.

The name of the Psychotherapy Practice that I co-founded in 1990 is The Art of Living.  In my view that is what psychotherapy is about.  Each person’s answer to what the art of living is to them is also very personal.  I ask questions and share thoughts.  You come up with your own answers.