Couples Bootcamp: Working It Out In The Desert
By Nancy Greenlee, Therapist, Rio Retreat Center at The Meadows
Corrine and Joe have been married for seven years. This marriage is the second one for both of them. They elected to attend Couples Boot Camp to “improve our communication and resolve ongoing arguments about the amount of time we spend together.”
While each of them proclaims their love for the other, they also have different expectations about what coupleship looks like in terms of quality personal time vs. family time, and the issues are causing a rift that invites bickering and further withdrawal.
Consider this: Your partner’s behavior isn’t what drives you crazy. Your own brain is.
What you learned about relationships likely came from interactions, dysfunction, and traumas you experienced in your family of origin. You may often hear the strident voice of your immature brain reminding you of the less-than-ideal things you may have learned about the way adult couples are supposed to treat as you navigate your relationship with your partner. Rob complains that Jennifer is so reticent and depressed that he has lost hope that he can be enough for her. He is weary of being the cheerleader and counselor to her. Jennifer admits she has low self-esteem and counters that Rob’s constant nagging and criticism have worn her down. Both come from family backgrounds of addiction and emotional abuse. They aren’t sure they can remain together; however, both recognize that their unresolved issues will likely carry over to any future partners. They state that Boot Camp may be their last resort to stay together.
At this workshop, participants learn that they are not so much addressing their partner’s behavior as they are reacting to unaddressed family of origin wounds. When they stop projecting their past relational disappointments onto their spouse or partner, the path becomes clear for a more rewarding, intimate coupleship. Boot Camp process includes exploring family of origin roles and dysfunctional messages that individuals carry into their committed relationships.
Marilee and Jason have been together since high school. They acknowledge that they argue and “fight like we are still 16 years old.” As their 29th anniversary draws near, they wonder if they have simply outgrown each other or will they be able to redefine the relationship from a new perspective as life-long partners. They value the comfort and joy their children and grandchildren give them but dread the thought of spending the rest of their lives unhappily married to each other. Their objective at Boot Camp is to find a way to restart the marriage as mid-life adults.
This workshop curriculum invites exploration of skewed relationship thinking and offers respectful solution-finding to unresolved and/or repetitive relational issues. Couples find that this supportive environment is a safe place to examine difficulties within their relationship. Because the participants reduce areas of shame and open up previously-closed dialog, they learn through guided processes to problem-solve together and mediate agreeable solutions. Among other communication tools, healthy boundaries and limit-setting are introduced as effective strategies for bringing couples to a higher level of trust and intimacy. “Aha!” moments are not uncommon throughout this week.
Workshops are held for two to three couples at a time. The benefits of positive and supportive feedback from the group peers are plentiful. Among them:
- couples realize that they are not alone in their relational issues; others have the same problems;
- hearing viewpoints of several different facets can shed light on a previously murky solution;
- genuine, positive regard among all the participants can bring healing in unexpected ways for other areas of wounding.
If you are open to learning more about yourself, your beloved, and the life path you both share, Couples Boot Camp may serve as the relationship experience you seek. For more information or to enroll in a Couples Bootcamp call the Intake Department at 1-800-244-4949.