Relationships need to be nurtured and continuously worked on -- even when there's not a perceived problem. Just as people seek out a medical doctor for health-related issues, when a couple is facing problems in their relationship, they should turn to the person trained to handle those kinds of issues.
Members of the Jung Society of Nassau believe that every relationship needs a dose of sex, love and rock your soul so that couples can learn what matters most in their relationships. With that in mind, they hosted relationship building, intimacy seminar for couples at which Dr. Constance Avery-Clark, a clinical psychologist and certified sex therapist, doled out useful, down-to-earth advice as well as simple, practical steps to deal with issues.
Tatjana Turner, a member of the Jung Society of Nassau, attended the workshop with her partner, Theo Tsavoussis, president of the Society, not because they have a problem in their relationship, but because she wanted to work to improve it. She said the workshop provided a unique opportunity to hear from a professional trained in relationships.
"I liked the perspective and what she said resonated with me," said Turner. "[Dr. Avery-Clark] was talking about the differences in how men and women perceive relationships. She made it fun. She approached the subject from a humorous way, but what struck me the most was that people will often project subconscious history onto the person that they're with.
"You have certain expectations of your partner, and he or she does not have a clue that you even have them, never mind fulfilling them, and this is at the heart of many relationship problems. And through the weight of these expectations the relationship will collapse because you're going to realize that this person is not going to behave in the way that you want or expect them to. And basically at this stage the power struggle is going to start to where you're going to try to mold your partner into whatever expectations you have of them."
Turner found Dr. Avery-Clark's advice, useful and down-to-earth. She said the doctor offered simple, practical steps to deal with issues, and said she encouraged participants to look within themselves.
Turner said she also took away practical advice like the dos and don'ts of what to say and not to say, and how to make the conversation more productive.
"Many people are not willing to work on their relationship, but even more people don't even realize that there is a problem to work on, which to me is even scarier," she said. "If you have a relationship and something is not right, you have the option of trying to fix it or leaving. But if you don't even know you have a problem or that something's not right, it's scary. I think it's extremely important to have these kinds of conversations. It was totally down-to-earth, and people could understand her (Dr. Avery-Clark's) language."
Turner said communications of the kind recently hosted by the society should happen as often as possible. The one disappointment for her was that more people did not attend.
"I really feel that people who didn't come really missed out. It was wonderful," she said.
Turner's partner, Theo Tsavoussis, came away from the seminar with a greater understanding of relationships, but two things that really stood out for him were the physiological difference between men and women and the importance of effective communication.
"The foremost thing was a great sense of relief because what I found out was that physiologically, men's brains tend to be differently wired than women's brains. And what this means from what [Dr. Avery-Clark] said from studies done, they have discovered that women remember everything -- every birthday, anniversary, every special little occasion date, whereas men -- that's all a huge blank to them, so they tend to forget anniversaries, birthdays, they forget all these important things, and it's not because they're stupid or dumb, it's just because their brains are wired differently. They're thinking about different things so they remember different things. They have different priorities. So number one it was a relief because I discovered I wasn't stupid, and the women there, especially my partner, now realises that I'm not a self-absorbed mindless idiot if I forget today makes 12 years, three months and four days since we first met. It's no longer a big deal.
Tsavoussis said that both he and the women at the seminar realized that men aren't insensitive brutes who remember nothing and don't care about the relationship, but he said it was not carte blanche for men to forget important days and not make any effort. He said it just meant that men have to redouble their efforts to remember.
Dealing with projections and how to bring those projections down to earth also resonated with Tsavoussis as it did with Turner.
"Quite often, when there are differences of opinion in a relationship, you have one party accusing the other of gross negligence, or of some deficiency in character, or of something that they expected out of the relationship, or out of that person that they did not get, and what we learned was that a lot of that comes from subconscious projections. We go into a relationship with expectations. We believe that when we meet this other person that this is our ideal partner, our soul mate, the girl/man of my dreams. We don't know the person yet, but we're projecting that this is the person that we've been looking for all of our lives. Quite often this isn't the case and we end up with terrible disappointment. In fact that person is just a person, and pretty soon the honeymoon is over and you have to face the reality of the real personality of the person you're involved with," he said.
The art of communication was also something Tsavoussis said he took away from the seminar.
"I learned how to speak to the other person in a relationship. Never to say things like 'you always do this', because it isn't always. It might be some of the time, it might even be most of the time, but it's not always. We learned things like when you say 'you always do this', 'you are like that', or 'you are no good', as soon as you say 'you', you immediately put that person on the defensive. You immediately change the conversation from one where you can communicate in a logical manner into one where people are now adversarial and starting to fight. If you're starting to fight, there's no way you're going to be able to solve your problem in a sensible way."
Instead of saying 'you', Tsavoussis said Dr. Avery-Clark told them that it's best to say you're having a problem by making 'I' statements.
"When you say 'you', you immediately put the person on the defensive, but when you say 'I feel that ...', you charm the other person, and they're not getting mad anymore. They're thinking this person has a legitimate feeling about this. What is my part in that? What can I do? It remains on a much better footing than if you start getting mad and carrying on. It's a way of communicating that really helps you to develop the relationship," he said.
Tsavoussis said the "Sex, Love and Rock Your Soul: What Matters Most in Relationships" seminar was a good one for all couples -- even if they think they have a great relationship
The Jung Society of Nassau facilitates workshops periodically to help people look more deeply into everyday events of their lives. The Society was founded in The Bahamas, two-and-a-half years ago, by people interested in Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, and his insights into the human soul, because they were deeply impressed by how his insight dovetailed with the message of Jesus. Much like Jung believed that all people, no matter their mental state could be helped, the Jung Society wanted to provide a means to help people to help themselves through seminars.
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