Bring the Spirit of the Spa to Your Relationship
Juliet Heeg, LCSW-R, licensed psychotherapist in private practice in New York City, explores how to "Disconnect to Reconnect" in this blog post written exclusively for My Wellbeing.
About the Author: Juliet Heeg, LCSW-R, is a Relationship Tweaker, steeped in the psychoanalytic tradition with a strong foundation in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy). She enjoys working with couples and individuals on make-ups, break-ups, and everything in between. She is the Chair of the PPSC Annex, a continuing education forum for mental health practitioners. She has presented professional papers at the PPSC Annex and at various local and international venues, including the International Association of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP). Her presentation topics have included: the different faces of mourning, the challenges of social media in relationships, and the interrelated history of advertising and psychoanalysis. She maintains a private practice in NYC.
You don’t have to go to a fabulous spa to bring the spirit of spa into your relationship. But getting that relaxed, connected feeling does take some work -- or better yet, play!
My article in Insiders' Guide to Spas, “The Relationship Spa Where You Disconnect to Reconnect,” shows how at LA’s Larchmont Spa Sanctuary, nixing the digital, amping up the ‘ohm’ factor and reshuffling the deck with The Gottman Institute’s Open-Ended Questions Cards can create what psychoanalysts call a “facilitating environment” for reconnection. Couples need the space to physically relax before they can emotionally re-engage.
So in the spirit of post-Valentine’s Day this month, create your own spa treatment. Lockdown your phone and pull out an Open-Ended Question card or two. Maybe it reads, “If you could change one characteristic about yourself what would it be and why?” or “If you could change into any animal for 24 hours what would it be and why?”
The answer may not be as important as the question. What matters is that you cared to be curious. To dare to have some fun; to be surprised. In asking these kinds of questions, you are creating what Gottman calls “cognitive room” for your loved one, which is essential for a thriving relationship.
To see what a digital culture without “cognitive room” can look like, check out Eric Pickersgill’s photography exhibit, Removed.
Sherry Turkle, in her book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age reminds us that while we increasingly use our phones to care for us, they don’t care about us.
At heart, we still need to be cared about by a real live person. We just need to remember how to turn to each other with an open spirt and maybe an open-ended question or two.
What would you like to ask?
Thank you, Julia. We appreciate you taking the time to contribute your perspective.
Stay tuned to meet more therapists we work with at My Wellbeing in the weeks to come. Questions, comments, or feedback? We'd love to hear from you. Reach our team any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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