I am reminded that, some time ago, my friend David Schnarch, (“The Sexual Crucible”, “Passionate Marriage” et al.), together with his partner Ruth Morehouse, came to Britain following an invite from the London Diploma and the Naos-Institute (www.naos-institute.com). He stayed with us for a three-day Masterclass in London which attracted students from all over Europe, representatives of many cultures, sexualities and genders. Everyone was welcome and no one was left untouched (or unchallenged) by his work. David described relationships (in any form) as ‘people growing machines’, providing the very grit, frustrations, challenges that are required for our development. I find this somehow refreshing and a welcome antidote to the notion that relationship perfection might be available, preferably right at the outset of relationships and to be maintained for the rest of our lives. Ultimately it can only mean that we should have only relationships with replicas of ourselves so as to avoid disappointment.
When I asked him about his own personal relationship, he, entirely congruously, said “Twenty years war, five years bliss!”.
Central to David’s work is a “differentiation based psychotherapy originating in the theoretical assumptions of Murray Bowen and suggesting that the so-called self-differentiation is a central variable for human personality development. The aim of this form of psychotherapy is to confront the client with themselves, their actions and dilemmas, to help them through a process of self-knowledge, and to find new solutions to the problems that are burdening their life and relationships”
If I juxtapose this with the typical complaint in couples work, that if only the other would change, be more empathic, emotionally literate, attractive, forceful or even could mind read – as if they were some kind of oracle – then all would be well. Instead, the accusing finger points to the other along the lines of “the problem in my relationship is over there!” rather than taking responsibility for one’s own contribution to a relationship, or lack of. This is narcissism running amok and does not bode well for any type of relationship.
I am not finding the training environment entirely different. How often do we complain about our peers, if only the others would be more intelligent, mature, woke, diverse, inclusive, talking more, talking less… then of course we would have the most wonderful training environment. Here again, the accusing finger points to the environment and as in the case of all projections, away from one’s self. This cannot serve one’s own development, since our own formation is central to this work.
Bernd Leygraf Director LDPRT
The views and opinions expressed in these blog posts are held by the author(s) and are for general interest in the field. These blog entries do not attempt give advice to the reader, they are for educational and information purposes only.