The Sunshine Coast boasts plenty of courageous champions.
Like our very own vivacious and larger than life Heidi Latcham. She bravely sought to learn as much as she could about herself and relationships on national television in the pursuit of love on reality show, Married At First Sight. Heidi exposed herself, put her heart on the line and in her words, subsequently “got smashed into a million pieces” and changed her whole perspective about life and how she perceives relationships.
You might not think so, but to me, that’s bold and audacious! While you might consider her motives were self-serving, this is where the new Heidi Complex unexpectedly came to fruition.
What does the Heidi Complex have to do with relationship therapy? It’s called complex for a reason because it involves relationships. To explain further, Heidi was paired with an aesthetically matched rather handsome Australia dude aptly named, “Mike”. Following the literal whirlwind flurry of “marrying” at first sight at the altar.
Excitedly, they were flown on their honeymoon to a gorgeous, enviable scenic tropical location befitting for television. While languishing and glistening together on the pristine white sand of a secluded beach, newlywed Heidi felt it was timely for a deeper connection. She plucked up the courage to discuss at length her challenging upbringing and subsequent journey to rising above adversity to where she is today. Mike responded along the lines of, “I’m not your therapist, it’s hot — can we go have a swim?”
As you could imagine, it's part of my research role as a relationship therapist to tune into what my couples are watching and talking about. Whilst I may not necessarily agree with the concept of such shows, not only did I spill my tea, turns out, the famous “beach scene’ had many scorned and lonely women of Australia, leaping from the couch exclaiming, “I get you, this happens to me!” This echoed on my couples counselling couch too. What exactly were they uniting about? That all too often scenario when a woman seeks to deepen her connection with her man, daringly reveals her innermost sanctum of thoughts for the day for it to be dismissed, rebuffed and cast aside like a rag doll by her seemingly uninterested man.
Men don’t seem to express their emotions as easily, as well, or as much as women do. Why is that — and what’s the impact? Is it normal gender differences or can we pathologize this “strong, silent” sex as a condition that requires extended therapy and medication?
I’m sure you’re not surprised there’s a label to describe people who have trouble expressing their inner emotional experience called Alexithymia. Before you diagnose and make that psychiatrist appointment for your parent, partner or child, let’s confirm it is not classified as a disorder in the psychology manuals. It’s considered more of a subclinical disorder and a personality trait. What is it exactly? It’s considered to feature in nearly 10% of people and can be primarily part of their personality or a secondary form following trauma. It is being unable to identify and express or describe your feelings. Understandably, these people are more logical, and not so in touch with the difference between their bodily sensations and their emotional inner orientation. They do have emotions but not such a wide range.
The tricky part in relationships is, they appear to lack empathy, may seem self-centred and seeming completely unaware of their partner’s deeper feelings. Initiate a conversation involving emotion and an alexithymic will be seemingly bored and distant. They will also deflect the presence of emotion and as an example, label it is as tired or having “something in their eye”.
How do we approach this in couple’s therapy? Watch this space next week.
Joanne Wilson is a neuropsychotherapist, relationship specialist, weekly columnist for the Sunshine Coast Daily, workshop facilitator and guest speaker. Don’t miss my fun interview on this with Heidi and BarRat from SeaFm on my Is This Love Podcast this week.
Visit www.relationshiprejuvenator.com.au/intro for your head start to reviving your relationship.
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Relationship Specialist for Individuals and Couples servicing areas including Caloundra, Noosa, Noosaville, Buderim, Mountain Creek, Gympie.