We interviewed Erica Curtis (therapywitherica.com), who has been quoted by PBS, The Boston Globe, Mom.me, et al. (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy #42757, Board Certified Art Therapist #04-060). Below you will find her thoughts on strengthening relationships, and avoiding divorce, by focusing on the present, practicing gratitude, and listening.
Will you describe your practice as it relates to helping families?
What about these issues interests you?
I whole-heartedly believe that times of turmoil are opportunities for growth. People can grow. Families can thrive. Problems can be complex - yet answers can be simple. I find that interesting – getting to the heart of the matter, connecting the dots, and finding the small solutions that will lead to long term change.
What kind of practices and mental approaches have you seen from couples who have successfully salvaged a marriage in the rocks?
Stop focusing on the details of what did or didn’t happen in the past. Focus, instead on needs and feelings in the present, yours and your partner’s. Beneath anger and resentment is usually hurt, fear, or sadness. Listen for that when your partner talks (or yells). Connect with that inside yourself and in your partner. That is the place from which you can begin to communicate and connect.
What other things can people considering divorce try to avoid going down that path?
Cultivate compassion, a simple wish to relieve suffering, (for yourself, your situation, and your partner). Practice gratitude. Hug. Hug until you are both relaxed, at least once a day.
What can those in a marriage likely/best to end do to heal emotional wounds?...move forward?
Rather than dwelling on the past, notice what is present now. Set an intention to let go of the life you planned so that you can live the life that is waiting for you. Practice acceptance of what you cannot change, knowing that accepting the situation is not the same as liking the situation. Consider that forgiveness is more about healing yourself, than letting the other person “off the hook.”
How can people tell whether they are best investing their energy into holding onto or letting go of their marriage?
Every relationship goes through turmoil. These are opportunities for growth as individuals and as a couple. Invest energy in looking at your role in the conflict and what you can do to grow yourself as a human being and a partner in your relationship. If your partner cannot or will not mutually invest in their own growth, or tries to undermine yours, you may find that the relationship no longer works for you.
How can people get a hold of you?
My private practice is based in South Orange County. Contact me via e-mail or phone: Erica@TherapyWithErica.com or 424-248-8627.