In a relationship or marriage, the number one ingredient that keeps a couple together is success in resolving conflicts. Love goes far, but it only goes so far. It is difficult to keep good feelings alive in the midst of strife. Eventually, something has to give, and too often it is the commitment.
A couple, like an individual, typically has an instinct to try to solve one’s own problems. However, a couple—again like an individual—has blind spots that can be overcome. It is sometimes difficult to go beyond the immediate situation or issue without an objective party to help neutralize the high emotions enough to get to a place of understanding and negotiation. This is where couples work can help, and move you along further in less time.
Typically, couples come into therapy as a “last ditch” effort. Professional help is often put off until separation is imminent—the point at which one cannot “take it” anymore. The reluctance to seek help outside the marriage is understandable, but too often fuels the fire in perpetuating negative cycles. The good news is that if both individuals motivated to stay together, couples work can still be effective in repairing the damage in the connection and the hurt feelings. Recognition of these matters has encouraged newly formed couples—even before marriage—to enter couples work and correct the problems that keep getting in the way.
Intimacy is something we seem to take for granted—we should all be good at it, right? Knowledge and skills are required to maintain a healthy relationship. Through couples work, Relationships can look beneath the surface and see what’s “really going on,” rather than getting bogged down in hurtful petty arguments and minutiae, which serve to mask the deeper issue. Empathy for one’s partner, as well as for oneself, is key in breaking through the gridlock. In couples counseling, each one identifies and learns about their own and their partner’s problematic patterns in thinking and feeling that are repeatedly being triggered, causing interference in harmonious relating. These patterns are perpetuated through maladaptive coping styles, leading to a continuation of the destructive cycle.
In my approach, couples learn how to interrupt or even prevent the negative cycles from continuing by being aware of the triggers and patterns, and developing new ways of interacting. This opens up a new approach for couples in working with each other and navigating through conflicts toward resolution and better management of the relationship.c