When you find yourself in crisis in Los Angeles, you can choose from more Relationship Gurus than yoga studios, acting classes and massage parlors combined. After my husband’s confession an affair, I agree to go to couple’s therapy, to try and save our 11-year marriage.
Since the birth of our daughter, my husband and I have been exposed to a “progressive” parenting set: people with similar attitudes towards child rearing. These parents – like me – sometimes go to the extreme…think infant toilet training. Yep. I did that. It actually works. My daughter was out of diapers by one and a half, and has never wet her bed…not once.
One such mother – not the one my husband slept with – recommended we read the book, Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD. This book helped her become a more compassionate parent.
The three tenets of Nonviolent Communication are as follows:
- self-empathy (a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience)
- empathy (listening to another with deep compassion)
- honest self-expression (expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others)
This book led my husband to find Ray, a “therapist,” who teaches couples to communicate in a way that incorporates Nonviolent Communication.
My husband worships Ray. I think he wants to be Ray. He has had one-on-one sessions with him a few times. Ray is also a psychic. My husband has been trying to get me to see Ray for some time now, before I found out about his affair. I always made an excuse. The main excuse was that I want to continue seeing my own therapist, a 60-year-old motherly type who practices traditional therapy. She allows me to complain and cry for a straight hour without interrupting me. This is how I imagined therapy to be since I saw my first Woody Allen film at 16-years old.
Also, I do not want to delve too deeply into my childhood trauma, and some of the exercises Ray has my husband doing are a little too…unorthodox for me, thank you.
My husband’s Guru doesn’t have a traditional background in family therapy, or an education in psychotherapy. He does have over 15 years experience coaching people on how to communicate in a healthy, productive way in order to have a more open and honest relationship with their partners, and a degree from a college specializing in clairvoyance.
Ray’s “therapy” focuses on rewiring the negative messages we received as children. Most of us witness our parents muddle through relationships and model poor communication skills. Indeed, communicating in a healthy way, especially with those we are in an intimate relationship with, can be difficult if we are using tools learned in childhood. Most of us simply lack the emotional intelligence and skill required to allow each person in the relationship to be their “authentic self.”
When two people initially get together, unless they have done extensive work on themselves in this field, they are showing up in a relationship presenting their “stance self,” giving the person they are dating the best version of themselves. Most of us do this, especially when we want to make a good impression at the beginning of a new relationship. Eventually, and inevitably, our “authentic self” or “true self” emerges well into an intimate relationship, and often the other person is surprised at the change in personality, and the question “why aren’t you like the person you were when we first met?” gets asked. Sometimes this “authentic self” does not present itself until well into a marriage.
Unless you were fortunate enough to be born to two highly evolved parents with healthy relating skills, and the majority of us were not, most people could benefit from this type of communication course.
During the past 15 years my husband and I have been doing this codependent dance in which I recently realized I’m an unconscious participant. We have been showing each other our stance selves for most of our marriage, which leaves little room for our real selves to play a part. It hasn’t always been like this; there have been many moments of being honest with each other and many times of true connection, but those moments were too long ago, and too few and far between. We allowed a pattern to develop, where we don’t show up as we really are. I believe that getting together at the young age of 25 contributed greatly to where we find ourselves now.
Ray’s workshops, and one-on-one therapy, focus on the trauma of childhood and the negative patterns learned to cope, like fight or flight. Through unconventional exercises like meditation, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or “tapping” and Gestalt therapy, these negative patterns, which are ingrained in all of us, are unlearned or “disabled” and replaced with more adult tools to allow us to communicate and interact in a positive way, and ultimately, heal the traumatized child within.
The two books Ray uses in his course work are Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, and Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. I have read both books, and they are extremely educational. This work can improve your communication within any intimate relationship be it a spouse, a parent, a friend or a business partner. It can help a couple transcend an affair, only if, both partners are committed to the work.
My husband is completely thrilled when I reluctantly agree to go see his Guru. I feel that decision has made us closer already. He can’t wait to get started.
Delving into my childhood trauma is something I thought I could escape, and I’m not too excited about it, nor am I eager to talk to a stranger about my husband’s affair. However, I love my daughter. I want to keep our family intact. I go along with it all, and as my personality dictates, I do it 100%.
There have been too many times when I didn’t feel emotionally safe with my husband. I know I need that in a partner. I am not sure if this is my issue or his or both. Maybe this therapy will allow me the opportunity to figure that out.