Often couples carry baggage from relationship-to-relationship. They do not realize that their new relationships fail as a result of the previous baggage. In any new relationship there is always one constant…themselves! Often, problems first arise with the couple's intimacy. These can have devastating and long-lasting negative effects. Frequently this results in a complete lack of intimacy. The consequences are usually anger, rejection, projection and resentment.
As a therapist, I remind the couple that they are BOTH responsible for the success of their relationship and that keeping happiness in their relationship is a joint responsibility. Rule #1--There is no relationship where one person is always right or always wrong. Think about it, if one person is always right, that would make the other person always wrong.
In order for the couple to “come to the table” they must both want the relationship and have a willingness to work on it. I explain to them that by coming to the table they are making a decision to lay their hands face up on the table and share what they bring to the relationship. It is important to bring something to the relationship that makes one feel invested and productive. It is the qualities of what you bring about yourself, the good and the bad. “Coming to the table” in relationships means sitting down with your significant other; It is about being honest, trusting and supportive. This is where both hands are facing up and are open on the table. Meaning, “I really want a relationship that will work, and I am willing to work on it as well…I am willing to bring all of me to the relationship.” I do not mean just material things but human qualities of sharing, caring, and support. It includes building and growing together in the relationship. With both hands upright on the table, you can embrace hug and hold. With tight fists nothing gets in or out. As a result, many times games are played and people pretend to come to the table offering trust and honesty, but instead only offer deceit. Often couples come to the table but instead of an open hand they have a closed fist full of secrets. The only thing about secrets that stands the test of time is that the person is as sick as the secrets they conceal. Furthermore, one can only recover to the degree that they can be honest. This puts the power of the success of the relationship in the hands of the couple and gives them a goal to work towards.
Many times couples may speak of disappointment in their relationship and the lack of intimacy, closeness or support, and talk about deserving, wanting, and looking for a “good woman or a good man”. I inform then that most times what you are looking for in others is often what you feel you do not possess. One must ask, “if they are looking for a good woman or man are they offering the same?”
“Coming to the Table” in a relationship is the similar to what the mafia refers to as “going to the mattresses”. This is when a mafia family is going to war with a rival family or clan in an attempt to eradicate the family’s enemies. Coming to the table is a similar war to eradicate the negative issues affecting the relationship. It is all out war.
How often have you heard about percentages of sharing and giving in relationships? I give 80% and my partner gives 20%. In the 1970’s Teddy Pendergrass made a song based on this concept. The number one point I would like to instill is, in order for a relationship to work as efficiently as possible; which means that the relationship provides support, honesty, trust, safety and caring for both people involved, one has to give100% of themselves.
In “Coming to the Table”, the question becomes, are you willing to sit down and communicate with your mate using tenderness, understanding, caring, sharing and most of all honesty. Based on my 24 years of providing therapy to couples, I guarantee that this will bring about empowerment to any relationship?
Dr Sheafe has over 24 years of clinical experience in marriage counseling & family therapy. She specializes in: substance abuse treatment, drug addiction, sex therapy and couples counseling. She can assist with recovery from emotional, verbal, physical and drug abuse. Dr Sheafe is considered an expert on domestic violence and issues related to childhood trauma and porn addiction. She has worked with thousands of clients throughout the United States & Europe. She States, “I offer solid, down-to-earth guidance!” She is called upon by litigators as an ‘Expert Witness’ for issues related to sexual trauma. She offers phone counseling or in-person visits for those living in South East Virginia. For complete information please visit: http://www.drsadiesheafe.com/telephoneconsultation.html or email her at
Sadie@Dr Sheafe.com. Most Insurance accepted.
Dr Sheafe is a Board Certified Clinical Sexologist, American Board of Sexology Diplomate, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
She is certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Currently, she serves as the Chairman, Virginia Legislative Committee: National Association Social Work, (NASW) and Virginia, Regional Representative for Hampton Roads, Virginia; Member, American Board of Clinical Sexologists and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). She has been appointed to the Mental Health Advisory Council Board for the city of Portsmouth, Virginia and was elected to the State Board of Directors for NASW. She is currently the Chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs Social Work Professional Standards Board, Virgina and an Adjunct Professor at Norfolk State University in the Doctoral and Masters Degree Programs for Social Work.