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What We Might Learn in Couples Therapy

Like many things that help our relationships,
couples therapy has a habit of sounding appallingly unromantic, involving patience, gruelling
work and a host of embarrassing conversations about matters it would be much nicer never
to have to think about – let alone discuss with a partner and a trained stranger. Our
culture teaches us to trust and follow our feelings. But couples therapy knows this is
to be a disaster, for our feelings are for the most part errant and encoded with primitive
responses from a troubled past. So instead, it encourages a far wiser response: standing
well back from our first impulses, neutralising them through understanding and where possible
rerouting them in less self-punishing and more trusting directions. Related image Living
alongside another person is obviously one of the hardest things we ever attempt; we
should expect to get it wrong unaided and feel unashamed about the need for in-depth
training. There are a number of vital things we might learn in couples therapy: – For
a start, in a quiet room, we finally have the chance to define what we feel the problems
in the relationship really are – without things immediately degenerating into shouting,
sulking or cynical avoidance. We’re normally far too cross with, or upset by, our partner
to be able to share with them, in a way they’d understand, what we’re so angry and upset
about. It helps to be in front of a stranger we’re both a little intimidated by and have
to behave ourselves with. It is highly unusual to be able to put things so starkly but also
so reasonably: ‘That you never touch me and behave so limply and unenthusiastically
when I touch you is slowly killing me – and though I love you, I don’t know how much
longer I can take it…’ How much better than a decade of low level sniping and repressed
fury. – Secondly, therapists are skilled at teasing out from us why what bothers us
bother us. Normally, left to our own devices, we don’t unearth the emotional meaning behind
our positions. We squabble about where to go on the weekend, rather than explaining
what exactly going out or staying in represents for us internally. And as a result, the other
finds us merely stubborn and mean; and all that is interesting and poignant in our position
is lost. – Thirdly, therapists break up unseen repeated patterns of upset and retaliation.
A classic therapeutic game is to ask both parties to fill in the blanks: When you ….., I
feel ….. – and I respond by …. So when you disregard the children, I feel rejected
and then respond by trying to control who you see in the evenings. Or when you don’t
touch me in bed, I feel invisible and respond by being ungrateful about your money. – With
the therapist acting as an honest broker, new contracts can be drawn up, along the lines
of: If you do x, I will do y… Once we get a little bit of what we really want (but usually
haven’t properly asked for), the other’s needs feel a lot less onerous and hateful.
– Sometimes the advice is almost beautifully pedantic. Name three things you resent about
your partner. And, next, three things you deeply appreciate. Also, keep the criticism
specific: not ‘you’re cold and ungrateful’ but ‘if you can call me when you’re running
late, then…’ Families can be kept intact with little more than this. Image result for
matisse paintings love – Through therapy, we are challenged to abandon some of our grimmer
ideas about how people can be and what will happen to us in love: If I am vulnerable,
I am not necessarily going to be hurt… I might try to explain, and the other could
listen… We are given the security to throw out some of the scripts we grew up with about
the futility of ever trying to be understood. – We can start to be moved by one another’s
pain. What does it feel like, a good therapist will ask, to hear your partner explain how
it is for them when you… We can start to take care of each other. A remarkable idea
comes to the fore; that this isn’t really our enemy, that they – like us – have
some very bad ways of getting across what are, at heart, some very understandable and
touching needs. Couples therapy is a classroom where we can learn how to love. We’re normally
so embarrassed at not having the first clue how to do so, we leave things until we are
too angry or despairing to do anything but hate. The most hopeful and therefore romantic
thing we can ever do in love is sometimes to declare that we haven’t yet learned how
to love – but, with a little help, are very keen to learn one day. The School of Life offers professional couples counselling with qualified psychiatrists that can benifit people at all stages of their relationships. If you would like to learn more, click the link on your screen now.


  1. stevenwonder7
    stevenwonder7 August 16, 2018


  2. Michael Jay - Value Investing
    Michael Jay - Value Investing August 16, 2018

    Seems like much of this all just boils down to honest communication.

  3. The Church History Channel
    The Church History Channel August 16, 2018

    I honestly find School of Life videos hard to watch. They speak directly to the issues in my life. I realise I can watch philosophy and politics and history and comedy videos all day long, then I get a SoL video and I skip it. I ask myself why and it's because they cut right into that raw part of me. That part that doesn't want to reveal itself. That part that hurts really badly. I realise then that these are the videos I need to watch the most.

  4. Elizabeth Long
    Elizabeth Long August 16, 2018

    ◔ ◔

  5. Rocket Cat
    Rocket Cat August 16, 2018

    I would like to forgive my ex boyfriend so we can continue with out lives and raise our daughter. So much stuff happened and I feel like, after more than a year, I still can't see him and feel peace at the same time. We have been thinking about going to therapy together, but still it might be something I have to work by myself.

    DIEMON_SPAWN August 16, 2018

    Yeah it helps to go to counseling if even if u both in healthy relationship, usually couples try to go at a point where there at point of breaking , its better have a stronger foundation then repairing it while it falling apart

  7. AngelOne11
    AngelOne11 August 16, 2018

    Such a great video. I really enjoyed it <3
    When 2 people understand each other, it is a beautiful thing.
    Let go of expectations that were put on you by the society! Enjoy each other company without expectations. Apply rules only to yourself and not the other person. RESPECT their wants and needs. Life is easier when you learn to love yourself first <3

  8. Rein Chan
    Rein Chan August 16, 2018

    I'm single why even am I watching this?

  9. Violetanna
    Violetanna August 16, 2018

    Kinda irrelevant but there were two girls (not in my year) who went to my school who hated and I mean hated each other. The type of hatred where you don’t think they’ll ever be okay.
    One day apparently a teacher sat down with them to talk things through and while they didn’t become friends they did become civil.
    It just shows having a third party to talk things out can really help even in a situation you think that could never be improved.
    There’s always hope for a positive change 🙂

  10. Leopard-King
    Leopard-King August 16, 2018

    Couples therapy should begin and end with deeply angry and even slightly disturbing sex. I'm taking open disdain. I'm talking about a ruthless session of missionary pounding on top of divorce papers. For the ladies, put a paper brown bag over his head and staple a picture of a copy of Mark Zuckerberg's tax returns on it.

  11. The School of Life
    The School of Life August 16, 2018

    Be sure to share this video with a friend. It helps our community to keep growing. Have you ever considered couples therapy? Or had positive experiences with it? Let us know in the comments below or we have a discussion going on right now on our app available free here:

  12. Elise & Aaron
    Elise & Aaron August 16, 2018

    A good therapist will teach us to teach ourselves how to be transparent while choosing empathetic words to do so in the compony of our partners.

  13. Frans
    Frans August 16, 2018

    If only my parents would have had the opportunity and the will to see a couple therapist. I have a great hope that psychotherapy and couples therapy can actually make the world a better place. Well done School of Life! keep going

  14. Outspoken Cat Lover
    Outspoken Cat Lover August 16, 2018

    Therapy is good

  15. Sebastian Elytron
    Sebastian Elytron August 16, 2018

    Did I just watch a six minute ad?

  16. maria clara
    maria clara August 16, 2018

    surely people who dislikes this video are sINGLE SINGLE SINGLE!!

  17. Lua Veli
    Lua Veli August 16, 2018

    1. You can find the most profound conversation I have ever heard about love if you search for this:

    " The True Hard Work of Love and Relationships", Alain de Botton, on the " On Being with Krista Tippett" podcast.

    2. If you want to know exactly how a couple's therapy works, you can listen to a podcast by one of the most brilliant therapists on the planet, Esther Perel. As I said the other day under another video, you can find it on Itunes, or on her website if you search for:

    " Where should be begin".

    To be honest, even the mere idea of living with a partner makes me feel claustrophobic and I thought I would really feel like suffocating listening to those real therapy sessions with real couples who are in real trouble!!

    But to my surprise, I found it terribly interesting, very enriching and eye opening. Perel is incredibly smart, wise. and compassionate. She even helps couples with a single 2 hours- session and here is the most fascinating thing about it:

    She says that people come to the session with one story and leave with another! She has that quality of attention and wisdom to re-tell you the story of your own life in a totally different way.

    This reminds me of what Gabriel Garcia Marquez says at the beginning of his autobiography
    " Living to Tell the Tale":

    " Life is not what you lived, but what you remember and how you remember it in order to tell it".

    It is exactly the same thing for the life of a relationship. Two people may have totally different memories from the very same experiences.

    The therapist can help you to find a common way to remember them and tell them in a new, more constructive way, so that you can move on…

    3. These two books by our Alain are also excellent:

    How to think more about sex
    The Course of Love

    4. Friends who have a problem with always being the one who cares the most, who gives the most, even to a point of sacrificing yourself: Stop doing it!

    The following episode from the wonderful " Shrink Rap Radio" podcast can help you to understand what is going on:

    "Mindfulness and Relationship Enmeshment: Disentangling without Detaching with Ann Chanler PhD"

    5. Friends who speak Spanish; we can learn so much from the interviews and books by the psychotherapist Gabriel Rolon. Don't miss his book:

    " El Lado B del Amor".

    Personally, the sentence that got me the most by him, is:

    " No todos los amores merecen ser vividos".

    6. There is a very interesting episode of the Hidden Brain podcast from NPR. It is called:

    " When did marriage become so hard? ".

    7. The other day I have heard a woman saying:

    " Once me and my husband even had an argument about what time it was"…

    Well, can two people get more miserable than that?? Is it really necessary to be THAT close to someone?

    I really don't think so.

    That's why if a couple's therapy doesn't help you to save your relationship, it can at least help you to finally get out of it safely, which is something to be equally grateful for.

    8. Friends who are not yet married, before you decide, please watch these three moves with your partner:

    -"Scenes from a marriage" by Ingmar Bergman
    -"Who is afraid of Virginia Wolf" by Mike Nichols
    -"Before Midnight" by Richard Linklater

  18. Ryan
    Ryan August 16, 2018

    In couples counseling i learned how to argue efficiently. I learned how to stay on point, say how i feel, and exactly what i mean. I learned how to listen better. I dont just hear what she says but i do my best to understand what makes her feel act the way she does

  19. Moses Emmet
    Moses Emmet August 16, 2018

    Couples therapy is a good idea if you can find a coach or a therapist who actually cares about your relationship, vs siding or vilifying one person or the other. Do your homework before you bring in a third party or it will be more damaging than not going at all.

  20. Michał Z.
    Michał Z. August 16, 2018

    "I consider marriage a very important institution, but it is important when and if two people have found the person with whom they wish to spend the rest of their lives — a question of which no man or woman can be automatically certain. When one is certain that one’s choice is final, then marriage is, of course, a desirable state. But this does not mean that any relationship based on less than total certainty is improper. I think the question of an affair or a marriage depends on the knowledge and the position of the two persons involved and should be left up to them. Either is moral, provided only that both parties take the relationship seriously and that it is based on values." ~ Ayn Rand, Playboy interview, March 1964

  21. Stefan B.
    Stefan B. August 16, 2018

    How does one know they need/would benefit from couples therapy instead of individual therapy?

  22. SJA
    SJA August 16, 2018

    We've been married for 35 years, couple's therapy is a luxury we couldn't afford, we solved our problems the old-fashioned way, we talk, yelled, slammed doors, yelled some more, made up, said sorry then went to bed. ❤

  23. The Steadfast Duelist
    The Steadfast Duelist August 16, 2018

    My waifu and I never have problems.

  24. theevilgenius122
    theevilgenius122 August 16, 2018

    The thumbnail of the sad girl …upside down is a sad man

  25. Graeme Roberts
    Graeme Roberts August 16, 2018

    Couples therapy, and psychotherapy in general, is poorly presented as a service. Based on some experience, I doubt that the metropolitan area in which I live (population about one million) has anyone competent to do this work. I question the intelligence, wisdom, and competence of most so-called psychotherapists, but the real problem is that there is no way to find out. We can go to friends of acquaintances for recommendations, knowing we should take most of them with a grain of salt. Professional qualifications are no help at all. And some of them are simply money-grubbing charlatans. So we do the best we can by watching School of Life. And even though School of Life offers this service in London or over the Internet, I don't see any credible evidence of its quality or performance. At £100 or USD 125 for 50 minutes, thats an expensive experiment.

    Am I alone in considering that the psychotherapy offering damages the credibility of this otherwise superb organization?

  26. Lucifer Alpha
    Lucifer Alpha August 16, 2018

    Why am I watching this? I'm single.

  27. doivkcalb
    doivkcalb August 16, 2018

    You're always the couples therapist when thirdwheeling

  28. aalatiah
    aalatiah August 16, 2018

    I watch The School of Life videos because they make me feel I'm smart and like I'm doing something useful on YouTube. It makes me feel good about myself. I don't know if this is a good thing or not especially since sometimes my brain finds it difficult to process the information because of the beautiful English accent and voice.

  29. M Berrier
    M Berrier August 16, 2018

    Can you all be in Louisville (USA) for couples therapy?? 😔

  30. Jamie Hawkins
    Jamie Hawkins August 16, 2018

    ugh. my sister went to couples therapy with her "meh" boyfriend and the therapist did everything he could to salvage this ridiculous relationship. Now she's been sending me pictures of engagement rings. This shit works, but it also might not actually be in the best interests of the people in the relationship. Sometimes people just shouldn't be together.

  31. getmyswaggeron
    getmyswaggeron August 16, 2018

    I love you guys. You have allowed me to gain control of a lost and troubled/suicidal thought filled mind and I cant thank you all enough.

  32. My husband is a chaebol heir.
    My husband is a chaebol heir. August 16, 2018

    I’m single so IDK why I’m even here.

  33. Shadow Seeker
    Shadow Seeker August 16, 2018

    the only thing that u will learn in couples therapy is that u shouldn't have got married

  34. westermannah
    westermannah August 16, 2018

    As the channel has been going fo a few years now, I feel we take much of its content for granted. The insights are golden, and the animations are so beautiful they are basically art. They come fairly frequently so we do not stop to appreciate it fully. So thank you <3

  35. Cynthia Johnson
    Cynthia Johnson August 16, 2018

    Doesn't work with a narcissist. When you tell them how hurt you are by something, the narcissist takes mental notes on how to turn the screws on you. It's actually hurtful to believe that sharing your feelings and vulnerability is gonna make things better.

  36. Luny & Milky
    Luny & Milky August 17, 2018

    Gotta learrn 2 work together..

  37. Master Of Disguise
    Master Of Disguise August 17, 2018

    Been binge-watching a lot of your videos
    my mind is Fuck up right now..

  38. Giffy
    Giffy August 17, 2018

    does it sound weird to want a partner so I can figure out how and why it is so hard to get and stay with a partner?

  39. Rascal
    Rascal August 17, 2018

    IF you cant be honest with your partner…why get married? maybe 'we' need to learn how to be responsible adults BEFORE we get married. be kind always. be honest and ACCEPT your partners honesty ….take more time to be alone with your REAL FEELINGS. get a babysitter once a week WITHOUT FAIL…kids will end your marriage faster than cheating

  40. Andrei Mouraviev
    Andrei Mouraviev August 17, 2018

    You should do videos on psychology!

  41. Drake Drones
    Drake Drones August 17, 2018

    I went to mine and learnt:
    1. You cannot make someone love you who is not invested in you.
    2. No matter how much you do, you can never make a selfish person reciprocate.
    3. If your spouse dislikes you for no apparent reason and is irked with everything, the relationship is over.

  42. Big Daddy
    Big Daddy August 17, 2018

    Good thing I'll never need couples therapy because I'll never be in a relationship.

  43. Daniel C
    Daniel C August 17, 2018

    I was always told that emotional needs are codependency problems in relationships.

  44. DaKermitFrog
    DaKermitFrog August 17, 2018

    Get one of those pop filters for your microphone, I'm about to kill myself listening to your sharp s pronunciation, had my volume up and almost went deaf.

  45. SexyWellness
    SexyWellness August 17, 2018

    Yes! AND… Learning new ways to touch, soothe and pamper your partner can extend the magic of a relationship for years! When hands can say what words can not – Here's where you can learn how –

  46. nunchaku101
    nunchaku101 August 17, 2018

    What a load of bullshit.
    Last thing you want is to introduce psych wankers into a relationship.

  47. K lang
    K lang August 17, 2018

    when this channel post something, it is somehow similar to anna akana's vids. hmmmm

  48. Denis Elis
    Denis Elis August 17, 2018

    Unsubscribed from channel. Your videos are making me dumber!

  49. Otilia Lampman
    Otilia Lampman August 18, 2018

    Omg. Why didnt I listen to this before yesterday

  50. Ramdane Mohamed
    Ramdane Mohamed August 18, 2018

    Support this channel please

  51. Matrinique
    Matrinique August 19, 2018

    But how do you know if you should try to salvage the relationship vs just stopping it because it's just too hard? Shouldn't the person you fall in love with be easy to be with? Someone who shares your values and respects you?

  52. Wayne Thompson
    Wayne Thompson August 19, 2018

    What about family therapy?

  53. Conner Fields
    Conner Fields August 19, 2018

    Is it unusual for me to have teen-like arguments with my parents into my late late 20s? Like about job searching and my spending? If so am I childish and immature, or even a bit pathetic?

  54. N H
    N H August 20, 2018

    As a rule: All Therapy is about learning to tolerate something that is uncomfortable- not about fixing the problem. I liken it to learning to live with a sliver under your skin- instead of removing the sliver and letting the skin heal.

  55. Edwin Pino
    Edwin Pino August 20, 2018

    Wow this make it sound so easy, sadly is always a little harder =/

  56. Kerryanna 111
    Kerryanna 111 August 20, 2018

    download now the godfather's game serial number & enjoy:

  57. André Pfitzner
    André Pfitzner August 21, 2018

    Some things CANNOT be negotiated.

  58. Trace Absence
    Trace Absence August 22, 2018

    There are walls around some people that the greatest mountain climber couldn’t even begin to climb.

  59. xZad Zerolf
    xZad Zerolf August 24, 2018

    Pome :3
    Maybe one day <3

  60. Geoffrey Zhang
    Geoffrey Zhang August 25, 2018

    the British accent is not bad

  61. R S
    R S August 25, 2018

    that Kim and I love is like gas and Styrofoam. burns for a long time

  62. Ryan Finch
    Ryan Finch August 28, 2018

    I wish I could have watched this video five years before it had been published; however, I am grateful for it now

  63. Sakai A
    Sakai A August 29, 2018

    Looks like a **ck jerking of lol

  64. Paul Sutherland
    Paul Sutherland August 29, 2018

    I'd like to dedicate my viewing of this video to my 3 ex-wives

  65. MsRavenousWolf
    MsRavenousWolf August 30, 2018

    Unfortunately I'm open to couples therapy but my partner is not. He has this bad view or perspective on couples therapy thinking that they're going to tell him he's a horrible person.

  66. Bart Dijkstra
    Bart Dijkstra September 4, 2018

    await weekend investigation period close knee snap squeeze am.

  67. K
    K September 6, 2018

    I went to couples counseling three times with my ex in an attempt to FIX our problems. Unfortunately, the resentment and abuse that went on had done it’s damage and counseling did not save us. It only prolonged the abusive situation and I stayed entirely too long. It did, however, help me have a healthier future relationship. I have used all the learned communication tools with my husband and I am so glad I had that knowledge to bring forward with me.

  68. Diana Q
    Diana Q September 7, 2018

    ok nvm all your video animations are amazing wtf!!

  69. Allan Carvajal
    Allan Carvajal September 14, 2018

    These videos really need Spanish subtitles! I want to show them to some friends but they only speak Spanish :/

  70. Cherylynn Lima
    Cherylynn Lima September 14, 2018

    Could school of life do a video on intermittent explosive anger disorder?

  71. first last
    first last September 21, 2018

    couples therapy:
    1. Blame men for everything

  72. Haiko Nieuwoudt
    Haiko Nieuwoudt September 27, 2018

    This is beautifully animated.

  73. chris .,
    chris ., October 2, 2018

    Couples Therapy can only work when BOTH persons participate.
    Not trying ensures failure of relationship.
    Silent treatment is worst dehumanizing verbal abuse.

    Be courageous. Reach out. Communicate with grace, gentleness, kindness, compassion, tenderness, and FORGIVENESS.

    SDSUMIGUEL October 8, 2018

    As a couples therapist I’ve learned several things. Here are those that stand out:
    1) Go before you need it and continue. Waiting until things are on the brink of divorce is like waiting until your car engine is emitting heavy smoke before calling your mechanic. It would have been better if you had gone regularly and fixed smaller things along the way.
    2) Communication is not the problem. Every single couple says they are in therapy to improve communication but they can’t really define what that means. No client has ever said “Bob cheats on me but our communication is awesome.” Ask yourself what you are fighting about most and there you will find the source of this supposed communication problem.
    3) A good therapist will at some point in the process, upset each member of the couple by calling them out on their pettiness and unfairness. It’s the therapist’s role as a mediator to point out flaws in logic and mistakes in perception.

  75. Brandon Stolz
    Brandon Stolz November 6, 2018

    I would love if in the future, you created a dual version of every video with "simple" or "straightforward" language while labeling your current videos "nuanced" language. Just because I know many people I would love to send this to, but they would either full out acknowledge they didn't understand half of that, or they would simply unconsciously zone in and out, with the difficulty of spinning the ideas in their head that correspond to the deeply nuanced language.

  76. Trust in flames
    Trust in flames January 2, 2019

    Well, me and my wife have been separated for 3 months. After a difficult a couple of months over Christmas we spent time together and went out on a date the following week. We have agreed to try couples therapy, but it seems that we have different vie on what outcome we both want? Let’s hope we are able to repair what’s ever been happened.

  77. Crazy Rich Wu Mao
    Crazy Rich Wu Mao April 13, 2019

    BTW, fun fact (according to my Mom), you are who the other person is to you. If you're an asshole, don't be surprised the other person is an asshole to you. If you're a nice and friendly person, don't be shocked that the other person is nice and friendly toward you. My friend pretended to be honest with his wife, she pretended to stay married with him.

  78. Steve Zali
    Steve Zali July 2, 2019

    I got help about my marriage conflicts with those guys: It changed my life

  79. MOP
    MOP July 28, 2019

    Dot dot dot

  80. Emokiriemi Abednego
    Emokiriemi Abednego August 16, 2019

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