Love is what allows us to flourish and blossom. Creating a flourishing loving relationship is similar to growing a garden. A garden requires planning, tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering and weeding, selecting and appreciating the fruit and flowers. It requires knowledge of the seasons, meaning what to do when. It requires careful tending and nurturing. It takes patience because it takes time. It takes tenderness because new things are fragile, as are our hearts.
Similarly, tending your relationship takes the same attention. As you progress through WeConcile, your relational abilities will be nurtured. You will learn to tend the garden of your relationship and help it blossom and grow it into the uniquely beautiful thing that it wants to be.
So many of us have this idea that getting married is the fulfillment of our dream and that looking at the hard stuff is the ‘nightmare.’ This couldn’t be further from the truth. Dreams don’t just happen. Dreams are something we have to build – with focus, commitment and patience.
Without effort, a dream is only an illusion. It isn’t solid; it doesn’t exist as reality in the here and now. It exits in the future as a possibility and we can reach it if we develop the skills we need to make it our reality. Successful people and couples analytically figure out what’s not working and then make the changes needed to achieve their goals and dreams. WeConcile gives you a “GPS” to help you get there.
Look at the conflict as you understand it. Figure out the pattern that has swallowed up your relationship. Discover the root feelings and wounds that cause negative interactions. Explore the negative pattern as a way of coping with the disruption of safe connection.
Learn to understand your root needs, fears and perceptions about relationships. Learn to share in a way that works. Learn to express your needs and desires
Open up new patterns of relating. Get comfortable, break in the shoe, get real with it. The tools you learn on this journey apply to all of your intimate relationships. You will emerge a different person than the person who started. And your relationship will transform in the process.
Rather than talking about the same old fight over and over, you will be asked to think about the mechanics of that fight, breaking it down, and finding out what is fueling the fight. We call your conflict dynamic your ‘cycle.’ This knowledge will build as you progress through multiple levels until you have restructured how you relate and greatly reduced your areas of conflict.
June and Billy have been married for twelve years and have two boys, ages 10 and 7. Both of them struggle with issues each has with their parents and in-laws. The feelings that get triggered for them include, “Am I first with you?” and “Are you on my side?” These types of issues are notorious in relationships, particularly in blended families.
June has a lot of fear because Billy is very close to his mother. Billy has put her in a position where she felt that she had to ‘take care’ of Billy’s mother at her own expense. June grew up in a family where she received very little emotional support. Her needs were not honored and love was conditional, so feeling as if she is not first with her husband is very painful and triggers these old wounds from her past.
When June gets emotional and expresses her fears about an upcoming visit by Billy’s mother, Billy starts to pull away from June. He also becomes critical of her feelings. “Why do you always make such a big deal about my mother visiting?” he says to her. June is left feeling unsupported and hurt. She needs to be able to talk about her fears and hear from Billy that he will be there for her.
Billy, on the other hand, had grown up with a father who used to be consumed by his feelings, lose his perspective, rant, rave and become unavailable to Billy. When June becomes fearful, Billy feels unsafe. He feels she is ‘crazy’ like his father. He tries to shut her up to avoid his wounds around not feeling safe and feeling like nothing he does will work.
This area is the yoga for this relationship. It is where both Billy and June will have to struggle with witnessing their feelings and pain, where there isn’t a quick and easy solution.
How can WeConcile help Billy and June work through this dilemma?
Billy and June learn to witness their individual experiences and begin to understand what is going on at a deep level for each of them – their wounds and attachment needs. A dialogue emerges around the feelings triggered by their conflict. Over time, this dialogue will become more and more supportive. There may always be some reactive feelings here, but as both parties learn to understand each other more completely, get clearer on what they each need, and how to support each other, this area will get easier. It is here where both June and Billy need to be tended to and become fully conscious of what is being triggered for him or her. Initially, Billy and June learn to understand this cognitively. Later they learn how to manage their feelings and sort through their conflict as it emerges. They stop being caught in a push/pull dynamic and feeling so disconnected from each other.
Their learning is set up in a purposeful step-by-step way as they progress from more basic learning to more advanced relationship skills.
Their learning includes about basic information about what does and does not work in a relationship. They learn how they trigger each other and how their cycle can ‘take off.’ They learn about their deep attachment needs that are unspoken but underlie their conflicts. They learn more about each other and themselves, as well as how each of their past histories is impacting their relationship now.
They are beginning to understand how to operate as a team. In this phase, Billy and June are still easily triggered. Although their understanding of self and relationship is increasing, Billy still sees June getting lost in fear and isn’t able to see the positive changes that have occurred. He forgets the progress June has already made, that her ‘feeling attack’ will be temporary and that she needs support and reassurance that she will be able to be herself without being judged or controlled.
And June forgets that Billy has already altered his relationship with his mother so that he doesn’t put her needs above June’s. She also forgets he is beginning to get in touch with his deeper feelings and wounds that contribute to his pushing June away. They still both get triggered, but their conversations are becoming more productive. Because of their volatility, in addition to their regular WeConcile learning, they use Urgent Care frequently to access tools to help them when they are stuck.
Like most people, Billy and June haven’t had much help learning about their feelings and needs. In this Phase, they begin to learn about their underlying feelings and how and why they view each other as they do. They also continue to learn more about their cycle and how to ‘put it to bed.’ As they learn how their feelings and their cycle impact their relationship, they are given tools to discuss what they are learning. Billy, in particular, learns a lot more about his feelings and is becoming aware of how destructive it is to criticize June for her feelings. And June is beginning to be able to talk more logically about her triggers and not be ‘taken over’ by her feelings quite so easily. They are now having productive conversations about their conflicts and understanding more about what underlies their conflicts.
Level by level, Billy and June move into deeper and more specific learning. They learn more about trauma and the wounds that are impacting their relationship. As they look at their wounds, they can speak in new ways. Jane can say, “I feel so unimportant to you when you are taking care of your mother, and it is at my expense.” Billy can say, “When you get upset, I don’t know what to do. I feel as if I am not a good husband, and I get angry at you rather than feel that.”
They also learn more about boundaries and how Billy’s lack of boundaries with his mother often pushes June away. In this phase, Billy and June learn a new communication skill called StoryTending that helps them feel more "felt" by the other. They also learn about how their needs are reflected in their sexuality.
Billy and June (like all WeConcile users) do not move onto phase 4 until they feel they can communicate with vulnerability. The learning in phase 4 requires the ability to be vulnerable.
They learn how to support each other in expressing feelings in a vulnerable manner. As they learn how to communicate their deep and vulnerable feelings and feel safe doing so they make massive leaps in their connection and trust. They understand each other much more and their conflicts are much easier for them to handle and resolve. They are able to talk about their wounds and needs much more easily and feel safe being vulnerable with each other.
In Phase 4, they gain tools to help them unpack old wounds in their relationship that have been put away unfinished. June is able to forgive Billy because he is now able to ‘own up’ to the pain he has caused her and how badly he feels about causing this pain to his wife. They review what they are doing that is new and working and what they still need to focus on. Finally, they are guided in building a new story about their relationship. This new story gives them a more effective perspective and allows them to see how far they have come.
As they finish WeConcile they realize that their relationship has smoothed out considerably because of the new skills and tools they have gained. When Billy and June finish WeConcile, they can easily state what is still difficult for them about their partner. They understand the deep underlying attachment needs that get triggered, where this trigger originated in their lives, and what they need from each other. They are now able to reassure each other. Billy is able to say, “I want you to feel as if you are first with me.” And June is able to say, “I want you to know how important you are to me and how much I need you.”
Billy and June are excited about the progress they have made and are both proud of themselves and their more intimate relationship.