*No real client names or stories are used in this piece
A major roadblock to achieving your intimacy goal(s) is the inability to grasp or understand it in a way that makes sense to you right now. For example, when couples come in for counseling stating that they want to "get along more," that's a wonderful idea. But, it's just an idea. It isn't specific enough. You aren't going to move towards something that you don't have some degree of faith or belief in. There are too many uncertainties in the vagueness of "getting along more."
In a solutions-focused brief therapy modality, you would be asked something called "the miracle question." Imagine that you go to sleep tonight, and when you wake up in the morning, and a miracle has happened! The problem no longer exists. What would that day look like?
Go ahead. Think about it! Pause reading if you need to.
Okay, you're back. If we were sitting across from one another, I'd ask you to describe, moment-by-moment, what your day would look like. I'd highlight areas for you that seem vague and ask you more about the value that certain details have to your miracle story. And, in doing this, your vision would start to materialize.
Suddenly, Ezra and Danielle - whose issue is that they don't get along - would come to better understand what they really want.
Let me walk you through what it would sound like...
"Ezra, what would that day look like for you?" I'd ask.
"Well, I'd wake up and Danielle would be home instead of heading to the office early. I mean, she might be working on her laptop in the bedroom, that's fine...but ideally, she'd still be laying next to me, and we'd cuddle a little bit without our cell phones." Ezra would say.
"That sounds nice. Is the sun up? Or is it still pre-dawn?"
"Oh, the sun would just be rising. I like how calm it is at that time of day. Not as much traffic outside, and usually there aren't any emails to check anyway."
"And then what would happen?"
"We'd probably go to work - "
"No, before that. You just told me that you were in the bed, cuddling with Danielle while the sun is barely rising. Neither of you have your phones. What happens between the bed and work?"
"Hm. We might just lay there quietly, but it would be comfortable, you know? Then she'd probably still get up first. I work from home, so I might roll over and get an extra hour of sleep. We might kiss goodbye and she wouldn't have a problem looking me in the eye. She'd let me see her get dressed. Usually she hides or closes the bathroom door. I think she's afraid that I'll just ask for sex all the time, but I wouldn't. I don't always want sex. I think it just seems like it because we aren't intimate that much."
"First, I noticed that you said you'd get an extra hour of sleep. Does this mean that you'd wake up early, just to spend some alone time in the morning with Danielle?"
"Yeah, definitely. I don't mind waking up early if we're actually going to be together."
"It sounds like you value quality time with her. What's this about her looking you in the eye and getting dressed in front of you? It sounds like you think she avoids you."
"Oh, I definitely do," Danielle chimes in. "But it's not because I don't care about him. It just seems like he always wants something from me, and I have so much to do in the mornings, I really don't have time for that."
I'd note Danielle's perception of her husband. "So, in this miracle scenario, Danielle, you'd feel comfortable slowing down because you'd know that there's no immediate demand for sex. Is that what I'm hearing?"
She pauses. "I guess that would help."
"Interesting. It sounds like you two want the same thing. In Ezra's miracle scenario, he explained that he isn't always just focused on getting sexual intimacy. He'd enjoy having a relaxing, laid back morning and kissing you goodbye as you go to work. He could've wished for anything, and this is the first thing his mind came up with. What does that tell you?"
Woah. Do you see that? "Get along more" just became more real, more concrete, more visible. They could see the sunlight streaming through their blinds. They could hear the stillness of the waking morning. They could feel their lips touch, without demand or tension, as they wished one another well for a day's work. That sounded really peaceful...and it was only the first hour of their day!
What would your miracle question answer be? If you went to sleep tonight, and while you were dreaming, a miracle happened - the problem in your relationship was gone - what would your next day look like?
Write it down. Be specific. Be detailed. You'll reveal the core of what you want.
Have you done the exercise but want professional guidance in putting it into action?
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