Recently a Marriage and Family Therapy colleague named Katherine Welch directed my attention to a musical artist named Amanda Palmer who writes raw, soulful songs about relationship dynamics.
In Palmer’s piece titled, The Bed Song, Palmer describes a couple that progressively becomes more distant throughout the course of their life together:
Now we’re both mostly paralyzed
Don’t know how long we’ve been lying here in fear
Too afraid to even feel
I find my glasses and you turn the light out
Roll off on your side
Like you’ve rolled away for years
Holding back those king-size tears
The individuals in the relationship mirror one another’s fear of vulnerability, and yet both individuals are longing to be truly seen and known.
At the end of the song, Palmer concludes with this emotional plea:
And I finally ask you, “What was the matter?
Was it a matter of worse or of better?”
You stretch your arms out and finally face me
You say, “I would have told you
If you’d only asked me.”
Can you relate with the desire to be in an intimately close relationship, or the ache of a distant marriage?
I practice couples therapy because I feel that there’s hope. In the words of Katherine Welch, who recommended this song to me: “This doesn’t have to be the story’s ending.”
The couple in Palmer’s sorrowful song may have had a painful history that hindered them from trusting other people. Or, they may have not had the communication skills to verbalize their feelings and needs, perhaps because this practice was not modeled by their own parents when they were young. Or possibly ,they didn’t value their own feelings and needs enough to consider them worth sharing.
Regardless, these are issues that can be discussed openly, honestly, and vulnerably in the safe context of couples therapy.
Its never too late for healing and intimacy in your closest relationships.
Relationships rarely change without effort. And yet, the cost of stagnation in relationships is a gradual but devastating loss.
In The Bed Song, neither individual took initiative to change their relationship. They allowed the habit of guarding and restricting their emotions to slowly deteriorate their marriage.
Day to day, they chose the illusion of safe distance over the risk of self expression. And as a result, they silently suffered.
Through therapy, individuals and couples learn how to speak with courage. They learn to take risks with their therapist’s help, and often they see change in their lives as a result.
Are you ready for change? Are you feeling brave?
Communicate your needs.
You are not alone.
Next week, I’ll be continuing our discussion of intimacy and distance in marriage by exploring the themes of Hope Springs, a 2012 movie about a couple’s journey through therapy starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carrel. Stay tuned!