What makes a relationship a transformative one? How do couples go from having a dysfunctional, or even a functional relationship to one that is transformative? Relationships go through developmental stages, just like individuals do, in terms of their psychological development. Transformative relationships evolve when both partners take responsibility for their own “inner” work and recognize the deeper nature of their connection. There exists a shared acceptance that love has a spiritual quality and that being together has a transcendent purpose and serves each of their ongoing growth. Most often, this does not come without tension and conflict. The realization that each partner is not going to carry the burden of making the other “whole” can be the beginning of his or her own deeper development.

In my work, I also look at the “unlived life” of a couple, the unlived life of the relationship. Most often in individual work, focus is put on the individual, going back and looking at those potentials and possibilities that have not been identified and developed. Relationships can also be looked at in that way. What are the unlived things in the relationship that got left behind because of the “deal” that one makes with their partner about various tasks, functions, and responsibilities? What would it be like to look at love in a relationship without grasping, wanting, hoping or wishing?

Legalities aside, marriage is a commitment in depth made by two people. It is a guarantee of nothing certain, but it claims to be an expression of intentionality, which is serious, long term, and in-depth. Explicit or covert conflict is inevitable and universal in relationships. Partners have different ideas, values, and beliefs, and so disagreement is inevitable. One of the implicit demands of marriage is that issues are to be faced and worked through, rather than evaded. Anger and confrontation can spur development, and differences and disagreements can give rise to new and creative opportunities. I have developed a model that I use with couples, which helps partners develop those attitudes, skills, and behaviors that effectively identifies problems and issues, and then manage these conflicts effectively. The results reached through this process benefit both partners and leave no residual hurt feelings. Building on these skills, partners can then move on to create a system of shared values and meanings in their relationship, as well as rituals of connection.

In my work, I consult with many couples, whether married or partnered in a committed relationship. I recently founded the Wisconsin Institute of Marital Therapy because I wanted to develop a place for couples to come and do the work that their relationship needs to move forward and serve each partner, whether this involves healing old or new wounds, communicating better, addressing perpetual problems, or deepening the intimacy of their relationship. I also wanted to create and inspire a center that brings together the science of masterful relationship with the art of depth psychology and psychoanalysis. I feel passionate about this work and I hope that I may be able to help you explore and develop a more transformational relationship that serves your own, and your partner’s, individual growth.