“What we do in life echoes in eternity!” This declaration, made by the character General Maximus Decimus Meridius, is intensely depicted in the motion picture Gladiator (2000). I have watched this movie over and over and I am still intrigued. What fierce costumes, desperate acts of courage, and disturbed versus heroic characterizations of human beings. What a movie! No wonder the film was nominated for and won multiple awards, particularly five Academy Awards in the 73rd Academy Awards including Best Picture. And, what a point its Creators have made! Our actions stare back at us. The fallout from our behaviors reverberates throughout our lives.
And, this point is very relative to our relationships, and particularly marriages. Over the course of time, any marriage is inevitably tarnished. Isn’t it certain character that directs us in the behaviors of our choice when we are in the course, whether that be the downfall or the incline, of relating? Interestingly enough, this point is also made in Gladiator. Our internal character influences us to make decisions that restore or further erode our situations. Remember Commodus attempting to convince his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to let him be his successor to the throne, “You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues: Wisdom, justice, fortitude and temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition. That can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness, courage, perhaps not on the battlefield, but… there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family and to you. But none of my virtues were on your list.” By watching the Gladiator one can witness the fall of the Emperor’s ambitious son through tracking his defects of character.
Which character strengths and virtues do you value? Which do you possess? Which do others witness as demonstrative of you? Our character strengths and virtues aid us in our relationships, and the lack thereof leads us to diminished connections. If we are mindful of character virtues we have a greater opportunity to contribute and resolve our trials.
Over the past year, I have developed an intense therapy program for couples, called Revive. The ultimate target of the Revive program is to help individuals master the use of character virtues, while at the same time become skillful at tempering their character defects, to restore a healthy connection with their mate. In most psychotherapy practices what has been commonly offered to couples experiencing psychological, emotional, and/or relational distress is the traditional 1 hour a week of psychotherapy services. The problem is that, historically, as many as 66% of couples simply find traditional outpatient psychotherapy not expeditious or sufficient in helping them tackle their troubles, so they commonly discontinue after four to six sessions with many of their needs unmet. Through Revive intensive therapy, a couple receives 3 hours of intensive therapy per week. The typical intensive treatment protocol includes a combination of direct sessions with the therapist, an assessment of one’s personality traits, and take-home exercises. In my experience, 12-16 hours of therapy is usually necessary for individuals to engage in a quality therapy process (which entails fully sharing while being observed by a therapist, deeply reviewing their personality strengths and deficits, and experimenting with a new mindset and advanced set of interpersonal tools), which can take months to complete in traditional therapy and yet six weeks or less in intensive therapy.
Typically, 75% of couples who do participate in intensive programs report receiving the tools and opportunities to address their distress, strengthen their character, rein in their personality defects, and/or repair their relationships. I have been witnessing couples participate in Revive and it is my honor to offer such a meaningful experience.