Reflections for the inner life.
We serve a lot of couples at Elbow Tree who tell us how much they enjoy pairing their couples counseling appointments with a delicious meal right next door at The Back 40 Urban Cafe.
Recently, I mentioned this to the owners of The Back 40 and their response was to create a special 20% off coupon for every Elbow Tree couple who pairs their couples counseling appointments with a meal at their establishment.
Stay tuned for more details on the coupons.
SUGGESTED MEAL STRATEGIES:
Go Before Counseling - Some couples have shared that they enjoy grabbing a bite to eat together next door before an appointment as an opportunity to check in with each other prior to their session. These couples report how helpful it has been to have a relaxed time over a delicious meal and to walk next door having connected for a few minutes before the session. Arriving into therapy together after having had an hour beforehand make a more effective transition creates some helpful margin between the session and other stressful parts of their life. Sharing a meal, even if the time together is a quieter time at the table, can be a gateway of sharing some space together. We encourage couples not to interpret the silence as much as to honor it. Small talk is not wasted and can be reparative if there has been tension.
Go After Counseling - Some couples build in time after each of their counseling sessions to walk next door and debrief the previous hour. We encourage couples to adopt a spirit of curiosity in therapy together that we hope will linger into their time at The Back 40. Other couples may elect to not carry the heavy counseling conversation into their meal together and simply focus on the opportunity to be together in a more lighthearted way. A few couples have even reported that they love to order their meals from The Back 40 to go, and then they go eat them together somewhere a little more private, like a park, their favorite beach spot or even along the bay front downtown.
Regardless, counseling appointments don't have to be limited to the 50 minutes you are in session. You can be more intentional and anticipate what you may need on the front or back end. When couples carve out room before and after a session, it allows for them to more effectively prepare and recover from a session. You can also attempt both and then choose the one that is your preference.
Some helpful pre-counseling mealtime questions:
1. How can I be supportive of you in our session together today?
2. What's the state of your heart as you are arriving to our time together (fearful, discouraged, despairing, delighted, pleased, hopeful)?
3. Is there anything that you wish we had discussed in our previous session that we want to be sure to touch on in our session today?
Some helpful post-counseling mealtime questions:
1. How can I be supportive this next week of the things you shared today in our counseling session?
2. Is there anything that we discussed in counseling that you'd like to continue debriefing together?
3. Is there anything you wished we'd discussed in counseling that we didn't and do you want to talk about that now or in our next session?
This is not an exhausting list of questions, and you may have some questions of your own that work best for you and your partner. Regardless, we are huge proponents of building in additional opportunities for helping couples take full advantage of the counseling process. Build a meal into the process can be a terrific source of help as you do this important work together and build habits of healthy connection.