The secret to a long lasting relationship
Close your eyes and imagine yourself walking up to the self help section of your local bookshop. My guess is that you're looking at a vast number of titles claiming to have discovered the secret to the perfect relationship, and of course unlimited wealth and happiness, etc.
In my practice as a Wimbledon couples counsellor I meet with people hoping I have the ‘secret’ the solution they have been missing. And as a relationship counsellor I know as a profession, we don’t the one secret template that will work for everyone. Rather our job is to help couples find their own individual, personal secret template. And the good news is that research shows that a body of professionals we are good at that.
But are there ‘secrets’ to the perfect relationship?
An article in this weeks Daily Mail reviewed recent research into brain activity of long term of happily in love couples. It observed a process called mirror neuronal activity in these couples. This reinforces research that we have known for some years. When we really emotionally empathise with another, really really try to understand them, similar ‘mirror’ neuronal activity is observable in both our brains. That this is happening in these very strong relationships suggests that if we regularly do much more of this empathising with our partner, it may fundamentally strengthen our relationship with them.
Working with your therapist
In our busy world it can be difficult to create time for such practices. However relationships seem to need couples to spend a reasonable amount of such undistracted time together, time in which we are empathising with our partner. To borrow an expression, just ‘shooting the wind’ together triggering the neural activity that the Daily Mail is referring to. This is not heavy problem solving, but rather just being curious about their partner, asking questions, getting close with their answers - all in a fun light way and empathic way.
The good news is that this is exactly the sort of thing your therapist will be hopping to facilitate. And perhaps the Daily Mail article is showing us that if you succeed, we will be joining the ranks of the super relationships. So during this week, see if you can set some couple time aside to just ‘be curious’ together.
As always this is Christopher MacGovern signing off with; ’talk to your therapist’.