Family and marriage therapist, Terrence (Terry) Real’s perspectives are refreshing, clear, astute, and have a flavor of feminism. In Real’s book, Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship, he challenges traditional masculinity, gender role training, the North American cultural homage to individualism, and more.
Us was hot off the press in June of 2022 and attracted immediate and significant interest. It is a good omen when rock star, Bruce Springsteen expresses his gratitude. In the forward of Us, Springsteen writes,
“A long and stubborn stream of mental illness and dysfunction manifested itself in my life. . . Over the years I’ve found some very good guides through that dark forest and down to that river of life. For my wife, Patti, and me, Terrence Real has been one of those guides, and this book is a map through those trees.”
Overview of Us: Getting Past You and Me . . .
Real proposes our love will flourish when we put our me-me needs into slow motion and consider what is in the higher good for our relationship. What decisions, words, or gestures will bring us closer rather than distant and disconnected?
You will read how compassion plays a role in Real’s work when he investigates couples’ trauma histories. He explores how his clients were parented and distinguishes between their present-day Wise Adult and the Adapted Child part of them that brings dysfunction into the marriage.
Real makes it clear that blame, criticism, insisting on the facts, and right fighting have no place in loving relationships. Relational language, on the other hand, provides assurance, connection, and comfort.
Basic Concepts of Us: Getting Past You and Me . . .
Real gives you an indication of his main themes in the chapter titles listed below.
- Which Version of You Shows Up to Your Relationship?
- The Myth of the Individual
- How Us Gets Lost and You and Me Takes Over
- The Individualist at Home
- Start Thinking Like a Team
- You Cannot Love from Above or Below
- Your Fantasies Have Shattered, Your Real Relationship Can Begin
- Fierce Intimacy, Soft Power
- Leaving Our Kids a Better Future
- Becoming Whole
Top 20 Terrence Real Quotes
- “The central question I ask myself during a therapy session is simply this one: Which part of you am I talking to? Am I talking to the mature part of you, the one who’s present in the here and now? Or am I speaking to a triggered part of you . . . The triggered part of you sees things through the prism of the past.”
- “The Adaptive Child is a child’s version of an adult, the you that you cobbled together in the absence of healthy parenting.”
- “There is no redeeming value whatsoever in harshness. Harshness does nothing that loving firmness doesn’t do better.”
- “. . . relational heroism—that moment when every muscle and nerve in your body is screaming to do the same old, but through raised consciousness, insight, discipline, and grace, you lift yourself off your accustomed track and deliberately place yourself on another track. You shift from the automatic, thoughtless response, from your you and me consciousness, your Adaptive Child, to something new, something more relational, more connected, more mature.”
- “In your close relationships, urgency is your enemy, and breath is your friend. Breath can change your heart rate and your thinking physiologically.”
- “Secure relationships lead to increased immunity and less disease, to say nothing of lower scores in depression, anxiety, and higher reported general well-being. Insecure relationships stress you out and can make you ill.”
- “The real question is ‘How are we as a team going to approach the issue at hand in a way that works for both of us?’”
- “There is no place for objective reality in personal relationships. Objective reality is great for getting trains to run on time or for developing an important vaccine, but for ferreting out which point of view is ‘valid’ in an interpersonal transaction, it is a loser.” Note: Basically Real is saying, “Right fighting is damaging to your relationship.”
- “When we get trauma-triggered in our close relationships, our Wise Adult shuts off, and we are seized by our Adaptive Child. We feel ‘taken over’ and we want to push back.”
- “Take a break, throw some water on your face, take cleansing breaths with long exhalations, go for a walk. But don’t try to grapple with relational issues from your Adaptive Child. Get yourself reseated in your Wise Adult before attempting repair.”
- “Ask yourself which part of you is talking right now, and what that part’s real agenda is. If your agenda in that moment is to be right, to gain control, to vent, retaliate, or withdraw—then stop.”
- “Hold a moratorium on your vain attempts to get the other person to change, and try something that will surprise yourself. . . Ask your partner what you might do differently to evoke a different response from them. And then when they make a suggestion or two, short of jumping off a local bridge, give it to them. Why? Because it works, silly.”
- “Love does heal us; love transforms—if we are willing to move past our own egos and show up for the occasion.”
- “. . . feeling superior, better-than, entitled. Here’s a few things to know about grandiosity and, in particular, about the difference between grandiosity and shame. First of all, they are both lies; they are purely delusional. One human being simply cannot be fundamentally superior or inferior to another.”
- “I want the mighty to melt and the weak to stand up.”
- “Some infidelities do end in divorce, to be sure, but, statistically, most don’t. Two-thirds of marriages survive the hit. And that doesn’t factor in going to therapy to get help.”
- “I call the stage of repair knowing love. Here you are utterly aware of your partner’s failings and shortfalls—the temper that’s too big, the affection that’s too small, the sloppiness, or stinginess, or impulse to control—and yet you choose to love them anyway.”
- “’Can I say or do anything now that might help?’ will often point you toward repair instead of escalated distance or warfare.”
- “Remember, intimacy—the thing we all long for, if we’re really honest with ourselves, the touch of human connection that heals, that fulfills, the only thing in our lives capable of rendering us truly happy, intimacy is not something you have; it’s something you do. And you can learn to do it better.”
- “Wake up. Wake up and take care.”
If you are ready to strengthen your relationship with renewed vigour, please access a copy of Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship.