I had a new couple arriving to my sofa today. They had been urgent and wanting to schedule a meeting as soon as possible. They had given a brief description over email about needing to talk about…
different speed, style and wish
I knew they were into the swinging lifestyle since a few years back. So on my way to work this morning I tuned into an episode from the podcast ”life on the swingset”. I was trying to get some fresh perspectives and ideas by listening to their conversation. Nothing new was really said, but I still felt it was a good way for me to get started today. Before meeting them. Them being Sara and John. A couple with adult kids. But still young, they haven’t reached 50 yet. They met in their twenties and when the kids got older and was in no need of their parents anymore, they started to explore the swinging communities.
She was all smiles as I saw them across the street parking the car. He looked a bit more troubled. They came into my place and sat down in the sofa. As all my clients usually do without any instructions. We said hello and I asked them to tell me more about themselves. These things I do not share with you as they are too personal, but their stories can be shared as long as I do not reveal anything that can tie them to this.
John was the one who started to take the conversation into the underlying issue that brought them to me. He was eager to understand as he felt he needed to understand to be able to find the solution.
That is also a common ”mistake or misunderstanding” that many of my clients share. The thought or idea that if they only understood completely all the facts, then they could see the solution.
I stopped John for a moment and let them sit in silence for a short while as I looked at them, trying to make eye contact a little longer with each of them. A little longer than what you usually do in public. As a way to make them feel seen as well as to make them feel a little more safe and mostly to slow things down.
” – Have you heard of ”difficult conversations”? I asked them. They both shock their heads. ”I will give you the short version of this technique, and I will remind you of it each time we meet until you both feel comfortable using this on your own.
Start by acknowledging that in each conversation there are at least two persons.
Move on to recognise that there are three ”levels” in each conversation. And that these ”levels” are or can be different for each of the persons.
The ”levels” are FACTS, FEELINGS and IDENTITY. So when you start to recognise that every time you are talking about something, and that could really be anything, all these ”levels” are present for each person involved. The ”levels” might be different in each conversation and the balance between them might shift. But be aware that they always are present. ”
John looked puzzled and the smile on Sara´s lips was not so prominent anymore.
”- So, what you are saying is making it even more difficult for me to understand the problem”, John started. ”My previous understanding as we booked this session and wanted to come here was that we perceive a huge difference in our swinging styles, and in our sexual speed and also a difference in our wishes. Which sometime makes it difficult for us to say a truthful yes or no. And now – if what you say is true, and I don’t doubt that – we have quite a lot of work to do. It feels both good and bad right now. ”
John pauses and turns to Sara. She still hasn’t said much and I would like to hear more from her. Then John talks to Sara.
”- Honey, this makes me realise that we, or I, need to take a break from swinging until we have tried what Thelma suggests here today. I would like for us to commit to coming here regularly each week for at least a few months to let me get my head around this some more. And for this to ”land” inside me. What do you think?”
”- I hear you. She says. I hear what you wish and it will be ok with me. I am totally happy to leave all of the swinging behind us if you want to. It is not important in that sense to me. You are. We are. I am with you in this one. So let us take on this challenge, as I think it will be, and see where it will take us.”
She turns to me and gets all practical, bringing up suggestions for a time and day that they can come to my sofa regularly each week. We agree upon Thursday mornings and book 8 sessions.
Their first homework?
To each of them reflect upon their original question. From the point of it being a difficult conversation. What does John think are the facts, and what does Sara think are the facts, and what do they think that the other one think are the facts?
Then do the same with what feelings are present within themselves, and what they think are present within the other.
Last but not least, what in this ”….differences in style, speed and wish…” is questioning their identity, as well as what they think the other persons identity is being questioned.
A last reminder that no, nothing of this might seem rational or logical, but regardless of that – explore and sense what you both can perceive. Make notes about this and bring it back to the session on Thursday – where we together will take a dive into their findings.
No person, relation or likewise came to any harm at the sharing of this story. Neither before, during or afterwards. If all of the above is a fantasy, reality or other is irrelevant. What the words mean to you and your relation is the only thing that matters.