Drs. Barbara and Michael Grossman talk about the ever dynamic roles of men and women. They discuss that these changes are normal and to deal with them.

We want to ask Dr Barbara questions today about how do you bring this information, this knowledge, this perspective into your practice, when you counsel people individually?

Well, I don’t know that I have to bring anything. I think people, couples bring their inevitable conflicts into my office, and they have conflicts because they’ve grown out of the original roles they established as partners. It’s no longer satisfying, and pleasant to live out of the original expectations of the relationship.

There’s new experiences in life that have unfolded since getting together. There’s probably one or both partners have gained incompetence  in their work, and they have a new stature, new sense of self respect and value in the community work.

 It might be that one of the partners is the caretaking parent, and so they are living a life of it. And organization of coming from the heart. Where the other partner is more leaning towards strategies and then their head. 

Needing to think and solve problems at work. So that, a couple could be on different pages at another, a new chapter in their lives. 

So couples bring me these conflicts. It’s out of these conflicts that we see together the inevitability of having to grow and learn how to share your experience and learn and understand what you want in behavioral terms so that you’re not criticizing a partner but you’re engaging in it in a process of growing together. And this brings a new chapter to a couple’s life, and it’s wondrous to see this unfold. 

I want this for all my couples to know that, from a stuck place where they are right now doesn’t need to be this way forever. There is a new chapter waiting to deliver new experiences and new connections in life.

So, what is how you experience a patient when they come to see you with their romantic partner? You always are looking to see the whole picture of what’s going on rather than to just solve a particular problem, to move them in a certain growth process.

Absolutely, I see a trajectory of development that’s possible even – when partners are stuck in gridlock, making each other wrong. I can see what’s next for them before they see what’s next to themselves.

So frequently I hear experiences from your patients who come to see you that, they’ve been to many counselors. But being with you one or two sessions has dramatically influenced them and gives them a big picture of what’s going on in her life, which they didn’t get from some of the people.

Well, that’s flattering. But I think the growth of a couple is I think, in the heart of marriage therapy for good marriage therapists. And we look to take couples along a journey. 

To learn how to partner together. I tend to be very direct, I come from New York, I don’t waste words. And I see the pain and I do not see the necessity of staying in pain very long when clearly, I can describe each partner’s reality to each other and they can see all their stuff. They can step back and see what’s slacking is the ability to talk in a way that a partner can hear and express your deeper needs that have not been evident before. 

And to learn how to respect each other’s personal experience and subjective reality. As close as we are as partners, we come from different families and different family experiences. And to understand each other sensitivities is very, very important. 

And to learn how to speak kindly, but to tell the truth and to ask for what we want. This is the essential skill,  after we get on the other side of resentment. Because unfortunately, couples come to marriage counseling way, way after the initial hurt starts. And there’s usually a quite an accumulation of hurts. 

And there’s usually a very negative interpretation of a partner, that can be reorganized, and the respect and appreciation of the partner can be recreated. But it’s a process, and every couple needs to know that it’s inevitable. 

It doesn’t mean something was wrong. It doesn’t mean that you’re not suited for each other. It doesn’t mean all kinds of negative interpretations. It just means it’s time to grow.

Excellent. Well, that is a great description of the kind of things you do individually. And how do you bring this into the classes? We do our classes together. We do four two hour classes. How do you bring that into the classes?

Well, I love our class. I love the class because it’s so clear that nobody’s experience, no couples experience is unique. 

And when we share in the class we talk about the inevitable stages that a couple goes through. We’re set up to have predictable tensions and conflicts because we don’t develop with the same patterns. Men and women develop, they reach the same markers, but not at the same time table. 

And so this friction is expected. And then what’s left is to, after we normalize what couples are going through, we just dig deep and we start learning. How to apply the skills that create intimacy, that create respect and appreciation. And respect, understanding what each partner needs. 

It’s an experience that couples feel like they’re really on the road. This is the journey, the particulars of your life are unique. But the journey itself is well, and couples are enthusiastic about taking the journey together.

Well, excellent. Well, thank you so much. 

It was a pleasure to share with our audience some of these nuggets of knowledge. Now we look forward to speaking to you again. 

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