An expert says that reclaiming positive stories can help couples that have become distant, strained and stressed find ways to connect and strengthen their relationships.
Dr. Karen Skerrett, a staff clinician and faculty member at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, explores this concept in her co-authored book, Positive Couple Therapy: Using We-Stories to Enhance Resilience (Routledge, 2014).
Using the authors' combined years of psychological expertise, the book teaches couples and therapists unique methods for uncovering positive potential within a relationship, and focuses on "We-stories": shared stories between the members of a couple that define and guide their relationship. The book defines and illustrates in concrete ways what is meant by the "we" - an element increasingly found in research to be a key dimension for couple resilience.
"We-stories serve four vital positive functions for couples," Dr. Skerrett said.
"They help shape the couple's mutual identity; provide meaning and purpose in the couple's life; serve as guides for current interaction and future growth; and are positive repositories of the couple's wisdom and a means of transmitting their legacy to others in their lives," she said.
The book demonstrate these "we-stories," and how they help couples connect.
Couples that are able to find their stories, share them with each other, and then carry them forward to family, friends and a larger community are more likely to preserve a sense of mutuality that will thrive over a lifetime of partnership.
"The book arose from a joint passion to rebalance the negative emphasis in the field of couple treatment," she added.
It is filled with vivid couple stories, and case examples of couples from a diverse perspective such as LGBT and military couples. It contains exercises for partners and couples, and illustrates opportunities and challenges for couple growth at various stages across the life cycle.