Letting in a Third Person in Your Relationship

Joyce Talag

Psychologist

And this is where it gets intriguing: Dr. Julian introduced the concept of “the third entity” as one way for couples to come out stronger out of the pandemic. (What???)

RELATIONSHIPS aren’t my cup of tea; they’re more my favorite cocktail—sweet on the first sip, crisp and dry on the throat, and bittersweet at the end.

I thought of this metaphor in keeping with the times. It has been five months since the quarantine in Metro Manila and I have listened to a number of friends venting about their home situations over e-numans (virtual drinking parties). Being locked down with their partners sounded like another honeymoon in the beginning that has turned out quite the opposite. This is why In Touch Community Services Clinical Supervisor and relationships expert, Dr. Julian R. Montano, has been more in demand these days.

According to him, adults are generally stressed because of the uncertainties surrounding their families. Where mental space and time apart used to build excitement between partners, being constantly around each other can be suffocating, especially when each party needs time to cope with the many changes that are happening.

Photo by Jonathan Borba

So how do couples cope with changes together? Dr. Julian suggests creating relational rituals like waking up together and mindfully kissing one another, and talking about each other’s plans within the day. Couples can also make it a point to spend 15 to 30 minutes each day just enjoying each other’s company without the need to problem-solve or talk about logistical matters.

And this is where it gets intriguing: Dr. Julian introduced the concept of “the third entity” as one way for couples to come out stronger out of the pandemic. (What???)

“There is the concept of “you” and “me” as the husband and the wife. The third entity is an independent living identity that is made out of this relationship,” he explained.

I was stunned.

So Dr. Montano continued, “The health of this entity depends on your dynamics and choices as a couple. It can be happy even if the two of you are sad. For example, you fought but you really want to work it out instead of hurting one another.”

Photo by Yan Krukau

Doing this takes mindfulness, which we previously covered in “The Truth About How Children Respond to Crisis.” Couples may practice mindfulness by being aware of their partner’s connecting efforts and making it a point to look for positive things when stressed. (The human radar has the tendency to spot the negatives under difficult situations.) 

“Remind yourself of the 3S that will nurture the third entity when you are stressed: self-care, self-regulation exercise, and self-soothing capacity,” Dr. Montano said in parting.

We may feel emotionally isolated during these times however, our experiences are so common that if we will bring them out through our stories and conversations, regardless if it’s over coffee, cocktails or nothing, we may realize that we are not alone in our feelings. 

May these expert tips from Dr. Julian stir, but not shake us.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

#InTouchStoriesofHope aims to bring you mental and emotional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic through the inspiring stories and perspectives of In Touch community of counselors, volunteers, partners, and clients.

Dr. Julian Montano specializes in marital and relational concerns, career planning and management, multi-cultural issues, mental toughness training, depression and anxiety, trauma, psychological assessment, and clinical supervision. He is a licensed Counseling Psychologist and he obtained his double Master’s degree in Social, Counseling, and Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, New York and his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from De La Salle University – Manila. During his 20 years in the United States, Europe, and Asia, he served as a counselor, administrator, workshop facilitator, and consultant in different educational institutions.

Feature Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

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New US Regional Psychiatrist Visits In Touch

Keeping In Touch: (from left) In Touch Head of Psychological Services Unit Dr. Julian Montano, Mental Health Services Lead Myrtle Almando, US Embassy Medical Unit rep Mimi Thein, US EMU Regional Medical Officer Psychiatrist Andrea Ross, In Touch Executive Director Mike Calleja, In Touch Foreign Liaison Program relationship managers Marielle Mikkelsen and Daisy Pope-Brien.

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