All couples and couples therapies struggle with issues of mixed loyalties. At any given moment, do I choose my own fulfillment as an individual or do I yield to the needs of the relationship? Is it a zero-sum game in which one partner wins and one loses – and if not, how else can we think about it? This keynote address introduces a model integrating both attachment and differentiation in couples therapy through the idea of enlightened self-interest – taking care of yourself by taking care of the relationship – as well as a model of healthy sacrifice, which is missing in our contemporary, Narcissistic culture. Finally, the balance of I and We always plays out against the backdrop of Family of Origin. We bring to the present the models of relationship we grew up with and our loyalty to those early relationships. Dare we move beyond our own parents? Can we be happier than they were? Can we transform the legacy handed down to us? An intense case will be discussed and shown illustrating the therapist’s role in helping couples arrive at a vigorous balance of self and relationship by moving beyond their family of origin loyalties.
Terry Real, LICSW, is a nationally recognized family therapist, author, and teacher. He is particularly known for his groundbreaking work on men and male psychology as well as his work on gender and couples; he has been in private practice for over twenty-five years. Terry has appeared often as the relationship expert for Good Morning America and ABC News. His work has been featured in numerous academic articles as well as media venues such as Oprah, 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today and many others.
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