The U.S. Open, the last of the tennis year’s four majors, is powering its way to the finals, and I’m psyched.
Tennis is an intense human drama that showcases the psychology of winning — belief in self, winning through intimidation, body language, gamesmanship, positive self-talk, courage, and reaching deep past pain and fatigue to tap the will to win.
It’s not surprising as a couples therapist I would remark on the irony of tennis’s scoring where zero (“love”) literally means “nothing”. The phraseology’s origin is unclear. Some cite the similarity of a zero’s shape to an egg (the French word is l’oeuf) while it’s also been said that “love of the game” or playing for love is what’s being referenced.
Apply tennis’ meaning of love to relationships’ meaning. How incongruous to say that love is nothing! That a feeling that surpasses everything, that defies explanation, and that transcends other emotions in its saving grace is nothing. Unlike tennis, healthy couples love doesn’t count winners or losers, nor does it strategize another’s defeat.
Love doesn’t take sides. The best duos are dynamic for years, honing skills through practice practice practice, all the while getting closer and closer. Relationship longevity is the result.
The problem for many couples is knowing what to do to have things be better between them. After all, what they’ve done so far often makes things worse.
Both partners absolutely need to learn the basic skills that account for fruitful communication. Without it, a relationship’s foundation is incomplete, shaky, bound to crumble under the weight of all that happens in a couple’s life together. Couples have many choices when it comes learning communication skills. Along the Denver/Colorado Springs corridor one example is the Couple Communication Workshop offered by Being Heard, a program unique in having a husband and wife team as instructors.
In a beguiling contrast to singles competition, partners in doubles — two partners competing against each other — is very much like romantic love. Togetherness has great purpose and meaning; there’s a full and expressed range of emotional intensity that includes joy, disappointment, and frustration; and having your partner’s back is the way it’s supposed to be.
Kathe Skinner specializes in couples work as a psychotherapist in private practice. These days the only tennis ball in her life belongs to the dog next door. Married for 29 years to David, another fan of “love”, they live in Colorado Springs with two hooligans cats who couldn’t tell a Venus from a Serena.
Being Heard, LLC