It has been said that when we marry, we must “leave” our family of origin and “cleave” to our spouse. Additionally, when two people marry there is an idea of the couple joining to become “one”. Two people join together, bringing all of their life experience, beliefs, and hopes to create a hybrid sense of “oneness”. Ideally, that sounds so sweet and blissful. Yet practically, it can be a challenge. And for many newly wed and not so newly wed couples, it is a huge undertaking. Sometimes, it’s a disaster. I suspect the reason this blissful joining is so challenging for some is because of the relationship with their family of origin. I would like to propose that one of the biggest challenges of “two” becoming “one” is that “two” really isn’t “two”. “Two” in actuality tends to be “six”. In the early stages of my clinical training, a very wise clinical supervisor said to me, “Kim, when you are in a room working with a couple there is at least six people in that room”. In my very green and inexperienced way, I looked at him and said, “huh?” “He then responded, “When you do couples therapy, you have the couple and two sets of parents in that room with you”. In my 20 years of experience, I have found that to be quite true. When we marry and become “one”, we tend to bring our family of origin with us. This is often unspoken and subconscious and is primarily conveyed in our beliefs, values and expectations. In some marriages, one or both partners are still very bonded with the family of origin. In my world, this is called being “enmeshed”. This bonding shows up in the partner’s inability to “leave” and hesitancy to “cleave”. This can play out … Continue reading