With couples therapy, you can build greater trust in yourselves and each other, a deeper capacity for mutual appreciation, understanding and empathy, and a more deeply satisfying relationship.
A struggling relationship can be all-consuming, challenging your sense of well- being and even your ability to function at work or enjoy time with friends and family. You may love one another yet can’t help having the same fights over and over. It is particularly painful when it results in your feeling chronically angry, resentful, dissatisfied, helpless, trapped or even despairing towards someone you also love and feel committed to. The stakes can feel even higher if financial issues or kids are involved. Often, the fears of splitting up are so great that you may wait until there is a heavy accumulation of unresolved differences and hurt before you decide to try couples psychotherapy.
This means that it’s very important from the beginning to talk about the positive things that brought you together in the first place. With a firmer grasp of your strengths, shared values, and past good times, we can then explore when, how and why the relationship got derailed. It will be important to include ways of behaving, feeling and thinking that you have inherited from your families of origin, because it is there that we all learn, for better and for worse, what it is to be in relationship.
To facilitate progress, I will provide safety. For example, I will encourage you to seriously notice and explore, but not indulge in “same old, same old” patterns of behavior that leave you feeling alienated and discouraged. I will help each of you to really listen to and “get” each other. We will discuss specific, more honest, effective, and vulnerable ways of relating to one another which you will practice in my presence and at home until they feel natural. This will include how to better manage hurt feelings, and fight fair and effectively so that inevitable differences and hurts lead to positive outcomes. The results will be greater trust in yourselves and each other, a deeper capacity for mutual appreciation, understanding and empathy, better communication and conflict resolution skills, and a more deeply satisfying relationship.
On the other hand, if after nine months or so there is little progress towards these results, what may become apparent is that the relationship is no longer meant to be. If I think this is the case, I will tell you, underlining that it is simply my opinion and the decision is ultimately yours. I will invite you to seriously explore this option, because it offers the possibility of thoughtfully choosing either to remain together or to separate, vs feeling trapped or self doubting. Should you decide to split up, I can then help you come to terms with the sense of loss, failure, anger, fears for the future, and concern for any children. I can also help you navigate the separation process to avoid painful acrimony. However sad or scared you may feel, you will know that having done your best in couples therapy, you have made the right decision. You will have the comfort of knowing you have learned a great deal that will help you be in better relationship with yourself, and that you have acquired skills that will serve you well if and when you choose a future partner.