There is nothing more difficult than another Person

Recently, I did some professional development for Couple Counselling. An approach to Couple Counselling based on Attachment, Developmental Neuroscience and Arousal Regulation. This approach to therapy has been developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin (who happens to be a lovely bloke). His approach is called PACT, which stands for the Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy. PACT has a number of Maxims or Principles, and I would like to share these with you over the next number of BLOGS. The reason I want to share these is because they make sense, and when I have shred them with my clients, I can see relief instantly appear on their faces. They are incredibly disarming, permission giving and fit the category of unconventional wisdom.

The first is “There is nothing more difficult than another person”. That includes YOU and ME. People are difficult, we are difficult, I am difficult. We all have a unique fingerprint, and in this way we like to do things in our own way, and we unconsciously hope that others will treat us in the way that we like to be treated. The problem with this is, we are all treating others in the way, we like to be treated and sometimes this works, however more than often it doesn’t.

So realising we are not experts on others can paradoxically release us from the position that we know what is best for the other. If we are willing to understand that there is nothing more difficult than another person, then the invitation in this principle is for us to let go of any theories of how to treat the other, be willing to step back and learn to listen to understand the other in a way that THEY want to be understood. While this takes conscious intent, it can help us be much more empathic and be their in a more open and empty way to receive the other for who they exactly are.

In doing this we can then respond from what they need from us, instead of reacting in way that exacerbates the difficulties that are inherent in human relating.



Sometimes it takes time to change.

Autobiography in Five Chapters

1. I walk down the street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in

I am lost…I am hopeless

It isn’t my fault

It takes forever to find a way out.


2. I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I pretend I don’t see it

I fall in again

I can’t believe I am in the same place

But it isn’t my fault

It still takes a long time to get out.


3. I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I see it is there

I still fall in…it’s a habit

My eyes are open

I know where I am

It is MY fault

I get out immediately


4.I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I walk around it.


5. I walk down another street.

Blending Families

There are many aspects of Stepfamily relationships that could be discussed in a Blog. However one aspect I would like to discuss today that you will know makes sense deep down is the issue of preserving the couple relationship. However I can already hear objections coming from biological parents in particular. Biological parents (especially those) who have lived as a single parent bringing up their child or children for a long time will often find it difficult to put their children secondary to their new relationship, and their children will do all they can to keep the “same” alliance and loyalty going with the biological parent, this dynamic often creates outsiders and insiders, which then in turns creates hurts, shames, angers guilts and fears. However, it is the couple relationship that needs to be attended to, because these “two” have chosen to place each other in each other’s care and even though, this is hard work, they have committed to a primary relationship. One cannot have two primaries. Children need to come second.

This requires the couple do the hard work in getting to know each other deeply even when it hurts. This means backing each other up in ways that are loving caring and supportive to the children in public, even if “stuff” needs to be sorted out between them behind closed doors afterwards.