My philosophy concerning relationship consultation is that it is intended to help both parties use their relationship to ‘grow up,’ such that they can be clear, responsive and self-reliant as adults in both the relationship and in their lives. Rather than focusing on compromise, I encourage individuals to stand up for themselves and strive for their own desires. This choice is made not out of selfishness, but out of a commitment to giving the best of yourself to your partner.
To be clear, I do not ‘work’ on the relationship you may have–a relationship is an abstract concept. I work with each of you, the two people in the relationship, while in each other’s presence, stitching, if you will, back and forth between you. Each of you bears witness to the work the other is doing, and is thereby required to make a decision on what to do in response to the changes your partner makes or does not make.
The person you have chosen to be with presents you with a dilemma because their existence, their desires and their presence in your life demands that you respond to them (because even no response is a response). How you manifest your own desires (particularly sexual desires), and how you respond to your partner’s is a lens that focuses, inescapably, on who you truly are. What do you desire that you have never said? What desires have you abandoned? What desires do you know that your partner has that you do not respond to? What have you given up? What has your partner given up? What do you refuse to give up? What have you given to your partner that you do not desire for yourself? What have you given willingly, grudgingly, resentfully, or not at all? These are the kind of questions that allow one to focus on who one truly is in a relationship, because it is lived as opposed to merely thought.
In addition to marriage and other more common long-term committed relationships, I have worked for many years with folks in so-called alternative relationships. No matter what form of relationship you may have found, the issue of conflicting desire is perhaps the most common concern, not only in terms of sexuality, but other aspects of your relationship as well. In different aspects of your relationship, one person will almost invariably be the high-desire person and the other the lower desire person. Such dissonance, a given between anyone in close proximity to others, always evokes power issues. My primary focus concerns whether you stand up or sell yourself out (also known as ‘compromise’) within your relationship.
Relationship sessions, in particular, tend to be two or more (sometimes many more) hours. I have found that the standard one-hour (or less) session is counter-productive in this type of work, where a longer session enables all participants to work through something completely.