Monday, June 8, 2020
Strengthening your relationship during COVID isolation
Although always a prevalent topic, since COVID isolation began my patients have been talking about their relationships even more than usual. It must be that people are inside, spending more time with their partners/families. That can be a great thing, or it can be challenging (or maybe a bit of both).
I've been learning about couple's therapy this year as part of my psychiatry residency, and one of my texts is ACT with love by Russ Harris, MD. In this book, Dr. Harris applies the principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to helping couples to stop struggling, reconcile difference, and strengthen their relationship. It has a lot of great exercises that would be helpful for nearly any couple at any stage of their relationship. (To learn more or purchase a copy click here.)
He shares a poetic metaphor for a healthy relationship. He writes:
If two people want to build a fantastic relationship, each needs to be like a mountain. A mountain is whole and complete in itself--and yet when it encounters another mountain, between them they create something new: a valley. A healthy relationship is like two towering mountains with a magnificent valley between them through which the river of life flows strong and fast and free. Neither mountain needs the other--and yet their connection to one another gives rise to a lush valley teeming with the wonder of nature.
Many people look to their partner to complete them, to solve all their problems, to make them whole, or to fix them. Alternatively, they may chose someone that they think they can save. If you recognize some of these motivations in your relationship, you're likely running into problems. Dr. Harris describes a mountain as whole and complete with a firm foundation and clear borders, yet able to be part of a rich and luscious landscape.
If you'd like to learn more about being that strong and complete mountain then check out Dr. Harris' book. It's worth the read.