Ego vs. Intuition: How to Succeed in Couples Counseling

In a relationship, the biggest reason for endings is the Ego. Werner Erhard once said “When your right, that’s what you get to be. Right. That is, not necessarily loved, or anything else nice: Just Right.” To succeed in couples counseling, both parties need to be willing to work on their ego, with the knowledge that both are making mistakes.

How are we able to delve deeper into our psyche? Breathe fresh air into our consciousness and let go?

This is the hardest task we must both follow in a relationship. The one thing that will make or break a couple. Can they let go of their need to be right or continue to just fight? Do they love each other and want to grow as a couple? If you want to grow, you both have to be willing to listen and learn. Otherwise, you have nothing.

The Ego is your words. Your higher consciousness or Intuition is a gut feeling, shivers up your spine, that you have no control over. We all know the difference, however, I find that we all tend to mix the ego with the intuition anyway. Your gut feeling is going to say something like “turn right,” your ego is saying something like “If I turn right, I might be able to go to the store, no, I think I will go left because I don’t want to go there.” Another example is that your gut feeling is saying “not good.” You ego might say, “He thinks he is so smart, but I can handle that.” The difference here is that your gut feelings are quick and too the point, whereas our ego adds more flavor. The ego is also YOU speaking.

Many people think that their ego is being cocky or demanding or stuck up. It is. However, it goes much deeper than this. Our ego is also the conversations we have in our heads, our doubt, our negative thoughts and feelings, repetitive or racing thoughts. It is also long drawn out analytical discussions we have about the person we are with – in our head. I like to call these stories we make up. For example: our partner doesn’t return our call “Right Away,” or is late coming home one night. We begin to make this mean something. If we are desperately in love with this person our insecurity kicks in (ego is also this). We begin to feel he/she might be with someone else, they don’t care about us, or even the crazy thoughts of maybe he/she has been in an accident. The story builds in our minds until they call us or get home and we can ask them ourselves. But do we? Many times people don’t say anything or they accuse based on the story that has been building in their head. Then the person is hit with a passive aggressive slander that night or a week later when you are pissed because the dishes aren’t unloaded or loaded from the dishwasher. This person is looking at you in shock and bewilderment – where did that come from? You, the story maker are so convinced of your thoughts, that you actually believe what you, yourself orchestrated. This is the ego.

Relationships are based on egos. We start out with chemistry, pheromones – intuition but this leads us to ego. He/she is cute, sexy, has a great voice, dresses well, and we forget about the pheromones and think more about the physical characteristics instead. We go to bed too early in today’s society and if this works out great – we stay. If isn’t so great we might stay as well, just because we blame ourselves for it not being good and stay to prove something. Again, the ego. Then, instead of focusing on our instincts when we see him/her picking up a glass of alcohol several times in one evening, smoking all the time, looking at their phone instead of you, not listening, having a bad temper, etc… etc… we are focused on the ego. The ego is holding onto the shallow parts of how good they looked, how nice they behaved “that one evening,” or some other such construct and ignoring the intuition. The intuition is pointing out things to us over and over. Our gut is saying “no good,” but we are holding on to the one thing that was good or being the savior. “I can fix him,” ego statement.

The ego relationship is thus a very immature bonding experience based on the thoughts you convince yourself of. The intuitive relationship is a healthy mature relationship where two people are communicating with each other: asking questions, clarifying, respecting one another and growing with each other. Neither relationship is easy to be in but one is growing together and the other is falling apart. Both may stay together, but the ego relationship becomes weaker and weaker by the day and the bitterness ensues. Sometimes babies come into the picture and then the ego has more reason to decide to stay. The passive aggressive lifestyle is born out of denial, retreat, giving up or holding on and pain becomes stronger. The couple splits or detaches. They may also become enmeshed in this weakness. This can be the couple that uses food, alcohol, or other substances to punish their bodies while “holding it together.”

When the ego relationship comes into my office the couple is often so distraught they are unable to hear what I am saying. They are clinging to their pain and their need to be right about their stand. Sometimes I will see a honeymoon stage at the beginning of our sessions. They are excited that the other party came with them and seems willing to do work on themselves. However, they begin to see that they both have to do work on themselves and it is not JUST his/her fault and this is when they collapse. Couples therapy ends because both are not willing to look within. They believe it is the other person’s fault and I should say that.

Faults in a relationship belong to both parties. You are a team, a business, a family, where both adults are the managers or CEO’s not one. In a company, the managers take responsibility for the business mistakes. Even when there is infidelity, it is both parties faults. The behavior to have sex is the responsibility of the cheater but the lack of communication and building a foundation, since the onset of the relationship (prior to the marriage) belongs to both. There is never a perfect marriage and then one partner just up and cheats. The foundation has already fallen apart when this happens and no one has done anything about it. It is no different than a person starts smoking because they are stressed. Sex alleviates stress too. It is a way of coping, when things are going wrong.

We all know from the beginning of meeting someone; whether they are right for us or not. Every time something happens, our intuition is showing us, this is when we should have that conversation with the person and make a choice. If we know it is not right and we stay, that is our choice. We cannot blame someone then for staying when our gut told us they were wrong for us. And yet, this is what we do.

Relationships are very difficult, even when they are right for us. This is because each of us come with baggage from childhood, previous relationships, trauma and our ego gets in the way. If we are conscious of what we are doing and have healthy communication with our partners; there is a better chance we will have a stronger relationship in the long run. If we are in a healthy relationship where our partner supports and respects us, we can work through things together. This is where the couple grows. If we are in an ego relationship that has no communication skills, a lack of respect, empathy, and is only based on something good that happened once or twice (or a trait we see in them, that we cling to) than we have nothing.

The key is determining what your relationship is built on and whether the two of you want to grow or hold onto being right about your stance.

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