A New Angle on Couples Therapy: How to Nurture Love Through the Lens of the Doshas

A New Angle on Couples Therapy: How to Nurture Love Through the Lens of the Doshas

There are two primary reasons for couples to seek therapy—to stay together or to move apart. No matter what the source of disharmony in a relationship, often, the central issue is communication.

Learning the language of the doshas can help couples process difficult interactions with greater compassion.

Each dosha has a specific stress response tendency. We tend to personalize our partner's comments, which causes us to become reactive and act from that stress response.


man and woman preparing salad

Understanding the Language of the Doshas

In Ayurveda, your dosha is like your “super-secret sauce.” It's a lens through which you can understand your tendencies, body type, natural affinities, and natural aversions. Doshas govern the time of day, the stages of life, and the seasons of the year.

The three doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha help explain the nature of everything in the universe—physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual. They inform how we relate to each other and how we relate to the world at large.

Once we understand the basics of Ayurveda, we can get along with almost anyone.

Understanding how the doshas interact helps us better understand our relationships. When we begin to see the elemental nature in others through the lens of the doshas, we can begin to relate without as much personalization, with less reactivity, and with greater ease.

Everyone has a dosha prakriti, or original birth constitution, and we cannot change that. But we can change our awareness of how to relate based upon who that person is constitutionally. For example:

  • If you are pitta in nature, you may have a hard time with your kapha-dominate partner—you have intensity and drive while they want to move slowly and methodically.
  • If you and your partner are both kapha in nature, you may find yourself in a “cold war”—both stubborn and attached to your ways.  
  • If you are a vata, you may desire a pitta companion who challenges your airy, floating comfort zone.

No matter what kind of relationship you're in, understanding the tendencies of the doshas will help you sail along the ocean of connection with greater ease!


man and woman walking together

Finding Compassion for Different Ways of Being

As we relate to others, remember that certain traits or attributes constitute each dosha. Some folks won't “get” us as they do not have the same constitutional nature. This is when we must begin to have compassion.

Each constitution will have its own “go to” response based upon its elemental nature.

For example: On a team project for work, it's great to notice how all the doshas contribute to the team. It takes all the various constitutions to make the world go round!

  • A team project will work best if we let the vatas create and brainstorm the big idea.
  • Assigning the pittas to direct the project will offer the most efficient management and the drive to get the project started and running with intensity.
  • We need the kaphas to attach us to the details. Don't worry as they will also take care of everyone, and make sure all is attended to in an orderly fashion.
  • The VPK project will be completed when the kapha ties off the last loose strand.

Think about your nature, your dosha, and your tendency to engage with another person. Knowing your tendencies via your doshic nature will allow for better understanding of your patterns of engagement. Here is where it gets fun!

Remember that in relationships it is not only the other person's personality that is acting up—it may be that their doshas are imbalanced. Dosha imbalances in the body, mind, or consciousness can often be at the root of a problem in the relationship.


two men in the kitchen chopping vegtables

Coming Back to Balance

Once we begin to see relationships, communication styles, and emotional tendencies through the eyes of Ayurveda, we can develop language that creates more acceptance and less blame or personalization.

Ayurvedic physician Vasant Lad uses the example of a marriage between two folks who are both pitta dominant. He says,

“According to Ayurveda, if the husband is pitta and the wife is also pitta, there is much more criticism, judgment, comparison, competition. It may be better for a pitta person to have a relationship with a person who is kapha or vata. However, if two people are kapha, they could be lazy and neither one will wash the dishes or fold the clothes. So a kapha person should have a relationship with a vata or pitta person.”

If your husband is a controlling pitta man with a critical attitude, he may be a little angry when he comes home. Dr. Lad suggests that you think, “Oh, he is not angry, his pitta is angry,” and you may find it easier to forgive his anger.

This approach brings new perspective and insight into your relationship. The knowledge of prakriti, the understanding of constitution, will help us to bring harmony and happiness in relationship.

Instead of labeling your loved one with the feeling, consider labeling the imbalance in terms of the doshas.

Remember there is a natural order to the universe. This balance exists outside of us, in nature, and within us as expressed by our constitution.

We often choose our partners to help us find balance and to bring us joy.

A pitta person can help a vata person to be focused. A vata person can help a kapha person to lighten up, get creative and have more fun. A kapha person can help a pitta person to remember to stop and smell the roses, and to recall what is most important in life.

When we learn to love and accept our partners, friends, and associates for who they are—to recognize their nature—then our relationships will thrive.


two people holding hands

Appreciating and Celebrating Your Partner

There are endless variations and combinations of how the doshas can play out. Most of us are dual dosha, a combination of vata-kapha, pitta-kapha, or vata-pitta. And some people are tridoshic, with a fairly equal balance of all three.

No matter what your dosha variations are, or your partner's, practice celebrating the unique beauty of the person in front of you. That's likely what attracted you together in the first place!

Love who they are in their elemental nature—you cannot change it. In fact, that is where many of the issues in relationships stem from—the idea that something needs to be fixed.

One simple way to practice appreciating your partner, rather than criticizing their nature, is in the language you choose to use, the words you choose to speak, and even the thoughts you choose to think about who they are. With effort, this practice can transform conflict into harmony.

Here are some positive ways to reframe some of the most common traits and tendencies of each dosha.

Vata Criticisms

Vata Validations

  • Hyper
  • Nervous
  • Weird
  • Abrupt
  • Wishy-Washy
  • Spineless
  • Energetic
  • Cautious
  • Creative
  • Spontaneous
  • Flexible
  • Adaptable

Pitta Criticisms

Pitta Validations

  • Micromanaging
  • Workaholic
  • Relentless
  • Blunt
  • Risk-Taker
  • Discerning
  • Ambitious
  • Passionate
  • Honest
  • Courageous

Kapha Criticisms

Kapha Validations

  • Apathetic
  • Lazy
  • Clingy
  • Predictable
  • Workhorse
  • Laid Back
  • Relaxed
  • Affectionate
  • Dependable
  • High Stamina

Learning how to communicate in terms of dosha tendency will create a more forgiving and accepting bridge in all relationship conversations.

Instead of labeling the kapha partner as lazy, try acknowledging your partner's tendency to be more relaxed, present, and patient. Then, when you ask your kapha partner to get up and go out with you, your ability to communicate this request without suggesting they are lazy will make it more desirable for them say yes. After all, kapha loves to support you.

If you struggle with a pitta partner who works overtime and is always busy pursuing their goals, try to recognize and acknowledge their passion and drive. Coming from a place of praise and appreciation will make it easier for them to listen when you ask for a bit more quality time to connect.

Perhaps your vata partner is indecisive or changes their mind easily. Rather than getting frustrated and criticizing this trait, do your best to appreciate them for their ability to adapt and go with the flow. They will probably be happy to let you take the lead and then make whatever experience you choose all the more joyful and fun.

Relationships take work and commitment; understanding, patience, and grace. Learning to recognize the play of the doshas in our partnerships can help us to see the divinity in each other, cultivate greater ease, and experience a harmonious flow of open-hearted love.    

About the Author

Kathryn Templeton, AP, LPC, AYT, E500RYT, C-IAYT

Kathryn Templeton, MA, E-500 RYT, C-IAYT, and Ayurvedic practitioner, has devoted her life to the health of others. A psychotherapist for 30 years, Kathryn...

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