Love relationships – the joy, and sometimes the pain of our lives. We enter into a relationship often with starry eyes; everything about the one we love seems fascinating. We are elated to find how much we seem to agree on, how many of our values are held in common.
And then…after a few months, or maybe even a longer period, we begin to notice our differences. Little fault lines in the relationship begin to emerge, and we enter a more realistic period as a couple. Some differences can be easily talked out; others seem more difficult. We begin to have the sense that there are “ghosts” in the room, especially when we disagree; the one we love is behaving toward us as if we were someone different, perhaps mother, older sister, or past girlfriend. We suspect that our “ghosts” in the form of father, mentor, past boyfriend are activating our perceptions and responses, also.
We speak of marriage (or perhaps we have already entered into marriage) and wonder how it will work with this person whom we are beginning to see as more and more his or her own person, not quite what we saw in the beginning. Will our differences be complementary and enriching, or the source of more arguments? Is it a good sign or a bad one that we are increasingly aware of differences in these vital areas of our relationship?
Family and friends
Children and parenting
Sometimes talking these areas over in the presence of a counselor is helpful. I am currently working with a very fine program called Prepare/Enrich, which offers an opportunity for both of you to separately fill out a written inventory about the relationship. I send the inventories in to be professionally scored and use the results with you as a tool for counseling sessions.
These sessions can be helpful, whether you are seriously dating or engaged, living together, married, a couple with children from the same or different marriages, or are a couple over 50, married or unmarried. There are inventories for each of these categories which will address the issues most pertinent in the relationship.
The program offers a structure for our counseling sessions; each of the important areas listed above will be given the time it needs. Because the inventory is able to highlight areas of strength as well as spot areas that need more growth, the sessions can be very focused. We can cover the most important areas for you to look at in roughly 4 to 6 sessions, and decide from there if there is need to go back and focus on particular issues you become aware of.
Through this program, I can offer you an opportunity to see your relationship clearly, identify issues before they become big roadblocks and give you tools to work with them. Because there are special inventories for engaged couples, you can use the program as part of a preparation for marriage that your church or synagogue may ask you to complete.
You may want to check out this program at www.lifeinnovations.com. The website will give you information on the inventories and on how they have been compiled and interpreted as a result of research and validation over a period of years.