The Magic Pill Series, Part I

In this first post in a series, couple's counselor Josh Gressel describes one of the fantasy pills he would like to give his clients in order to help them get through a rough patch.

For the past few weeks, Deborah and I have been writing from a very macro level about relationships.  I find it very rewarding to think in these terms, because it takes me out of the daily static which can overwhelm our ability to tune into our higher nature and our higher purpose.

Still, we don't live day-to-day at that level. To the degree I understand our purpose, it has to do with living as humans here on earth, not like angels up in clouds.  It is important for us to remember we have a higher nature and it is also important for us to pay our bills, deal nicely with our neighbors, and treat our spouses as we would have them treat us. Which is a long way of saying today's posting will bring us back to earth, hopefully with a soft landing.

I have a frequent fantasy when working with couples, that goes something like this: "What if I could give them a magic pill, which when they take it would make ________________ occur?"  Sometimes I have even gone so far as to give the person in question a breath mint and told him/her it is such a pill, and described its properties, and how its magical ability to do ________________ was now coursing through their veins and bypassing whatever issue it was they were struggling with in the moment.  It sounds kind of silly, but it actually works.  Our imagination is yet one more of our numerous untapped potentials, and this is an instance where you can see it in action.

So today starts a series of "magic pill" blog posts, where Deborah and I will alternate the kind of magic pills we would like to be able to give our couple clients to help them through rough patches in their relationship.  I hope that describing the properties of such magic pills will help highlight some of the issues with which we all contend when trying to get along with our partners.

Today's magic pill is a Maturity Pill.  This is just on the market.  When you take it you suddenly are able to see your partner through new eyes, much like you're able to see your child with an adult's eyes when your child is having a tantrum.  Without this pill, when your partner snaps at you, you will likely snap right back.  But with this pill on board, you suddenly are moved to inquire:  "Is something the matter?  Are you hungry or tired?  Or did someone mistreat you at the office today?  Tell me about it so I can help you feel better."

With such a pill flowing through your system, you can easily see that your partner's moods do not threaten you in any way, unless you use them to threaten yourself.  Do you let your child's moods threaten you?  Okay, maybe in absolutely extreme cases, but you can use this pill with your child too in an emergency.

The point I'm trying to make here is that if we could maintain our adult awareness when our partner is not, things will go much better.  The most bitter fights between adults are actually between the three year olds who have woken up and taken over control of their actions.

I would like to invite you readers to comment on what kind of pill you would like for yourself in relationship.  That is, it's quite easy to prescribe different pills for other people, but I'm more curious what each of us recognizes we need for ourselves and why.  I, for example, would love to find a pill which eliminates the capacity for moral superiority.  It would make me much less judgmental, much more forgiving and accepting of my wife.

How about you?


Do you have a question about your marriage or relationship? Is there a particular topic on relationships or individual psychological issues you would like addressed in this blog? Ask Josh in the comments below or email him at josh@joshgressel.com.

Deborah Leeds, MFT, is a couples and individual therapist with offices in Pleasant Hill and Berkeley, CA. Visit her website at deborahleeds.com

Josh Gressel, Ph.D., is a couples and individual therapist based in Pleasant Hill, CA. Visit his website at joshgressel.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom October 25, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Hello Josh, May I suggest an artice discussing the "can men and women be friends" study? Yet another good example on how men and women just dont think the same way or seem to even understand this. Here is a link for you: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/platonic-friends-men-women_n_2005709.html
Chris Nicholson October 25, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I would like a magic pill that temporarily converted me from Mr. Spock into Dr. Spock (less robotic, more emotive/empathetic). I sometimes think that my limited capacity for rage tends to enrage others. Maybe brief shared rage would reduce the aggregate level of rage....
Josh Gressel, Ph.D. October 25, 2012 at 07:04 PM
This is an excellent article, Tom, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. It rings painfully true to my experience when I was still in the dating world. Maybe men need to be this obtuse in order to have the courage to initiate? I tried to find the original piece of research on which this article was based and was unable to do so. If you should come across it, please send it my way.
Rich Buckley October 29, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Dear Doc Gressel, Thanks for the good work you do.


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