With all the differences couples have in personality, background, ideology, and the like, it’s a wonder healthy relationships exist at all! Relationships in which both partners maintain their individuality and still share a deep, passionate connection are entirely possible when couples learn to communicate more effectively and treat each other more thoughtfully.
It is fairly common for one or both partners to be skeptical that couple’s counseling will help. (Or that the therapist will be impartial.) I make every effort to understand the issues from both perspectives. It is important for both partners to understand that the perfect couple does not exist, at least in the sense that they agree on everything and never argue.
The goal is to help couples improve behavior and communication to maximize satisfaction for each partner and minimize conflict.
Common issues include:
- One partner being too controlling. Healthy relationships are marked by balance between independence and intimacy, between individual and shared interests. Controlling relationships can take many forms and have many causes. The dominating partner may feel insecure or have low self-esteem, and may have had a model, such as a parent, for controlling behavior. Partners may attempt to restrict each other’s actions or may try to limit each other’s contact with certain friends or family members.
- Diminishing a partner’s self-esteem. Constructive criticism is a sign of a healthy relationship. Ineffective or frequent criticism, on the other hand, usually leads to unnecessary conflict. Counseling can teach partners how to give feedback constructively.
- Affairs. Affairs can take place for a host of reasons, but need not have a single outcome. While infidelity can be devastating, it does not mean that the relationship is irreparably damaged. Counseling can explore the underlying causes for the affair, evaluate each partner’s willingness to address them, and assist the couple to make better decisions about their lives together or apart.
- Needing to behave more thoughtfully. When people are under stress, they tend to revert to maladaptive patterns of behavior, reacting in negative ways to their partner. Couple’s counseling can help identify the internal and external triggers that can bring on an unwanted reaction to a situation. In some instances a partner may assume they know what their partner is thinking or feeling and react accordingly. When these assumptions are inaccurate, this usually spurs conflict and a feeling of loss of closeness. Learning about irrational assumptions and how they may be circumvented may help partners behave more thoughtfully towards each other.
- Listening and communicating understanding. Sometimes when couples talk to each other, they aren’t actually listening. They are waiting for their turn to speak. Couple’s therapy can teach couples to listen actively to make sure that both parties are being understood. This doesn’t necessarily mean reaching agreement. Rather, it means that each person understands what the other is saying and feeling, rather than acting out a debate.
- Growing apart and no longer having mutually satisfying interests. Over time, it is not uncommon for a couple’s interests to diverge. Each may be focusing on his or her career, or consumed by the needs of children or an aging parent, allowing less time for each other. Couple’s counseling creates the space to acknowledge that this has happened, and to explore ways to reconnect with each other.
- Division of labor for housework and children. In an economic environment that practically demands two earner households, responsibility for housework and childcare often falls disproportionately on women. Couple’s counseling can enable partners to allocate responsibility fairly while lessening the stress on the household.
Counseling can help break the cycle of habitual patterns of control and submission, enabling couples to thrive as individuals and together.
Benefits couples can expect from counseling include:
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- A brighter outlook on life
- Improved relationships with friends, family, and coworkers
- A loving and growing relationship
- Enhanced intimacy and sexuality
I am proud work with couples. We have a strong commitment to helping couples find the love they’ve always wanted.