All relationships have their ups and downs. Raising children, pursuing a career, managing our daily household tasks, and trying to squeeze in a little time for ourselves can naturally create stress in a marriage. But when, repetitive cycles of conflict, ineffective communication, and emotional distress persists over time, a couple will likely become more and more hopeless that positive change can occur. Many times people get entrenched in “being right” over exploring the underlying causes for the problems and finding win-win solutions. Or one slowly becomes more detached and avoidant to “keep the peace.”
My work with couples involves looking at the marriage from a developmental approach. Simply put, relationships, as well as, individuals, experience different stages or transitions, which can naturally create challenges. Some typical transitions are; starting a new job/career, buying a new house, having children and parenting them, moving away from family & friends, or conflicts with in-laws. In the first stage of a relationship, we feel “I can’t be apart from my lover.” After the first two years, we begin to notice our individual differences and may then think, “I want to be close to you, but I now recognize how different we are and I want you/us to remain the way you/we were.” Or angrily stating, “you aren’t in-tune with me or meeting all my needs anymore” which results in conflict. Our “personal wants/needs” may interfere with the “relationship needs.”
My approach to couples therapy is to:
- Listen carefully to each person’s perspective in a non-judgmental, neutral way.
- Identify (and disrupt) the negative patterns
- Understand the emotional triggers for each partner (which may be influenced by one’s family of origin)
- Create a safe place for each person to openly and honestly communicate their thoughts and feelings
- Teach effective conflict resolution, communication skills, & soothing techniques
- Encourage you to take emotional risks, stretch, grow in new ways
- Instill hope by focusing on the positive
- Help you to appreciate & respect your differences
- My primary goal is to help each person HEAR things from a less defensive, reactive place, AND SAY/Share thoughts/feelings that each person may have not recognized or perhaps felt fearful about sharing. Intimacy deepens through this emotional exchange.
The good news is that the communication dance is a complex process that can be learned! But insight is not enough… real change takes time, patience, an action plan, and true effort from each person! Naturally, marital therapy involves “fixing” the problems in the marriage. While we start from the place of what’s wrong with the relationship, my ultimate goal is to move you beyond that. I believe the most important aspect of my work involves helping you both describe the “vision” of the marriage you “wish” to have. I am always surprised by how hard it is for people to describe what they desire and need in positive, behaviorally specific terms. From that vision we develop an action plan.
Call me today! I have been successfully helping couples and families restore their relationships and feel happier & more connected for over 25 years.