We all know that anything worth having is worth working for, and that goes doubly true with regard to our intimate relationships.
- Do you feel like your partner has your back? Did you know this feeling is probably the most important aspect of being a couple?
- Did you know that whatever your partner might be saying, no matter how angry or accusatory, deep down they're really just looking for reassurance and TLC?
- If you can focus on the emotional needs behind the anger, withdrawal, or tears, you can address the real need your partner has.
- If you can overcome your own urge to defend yourself, the most important thing above all is offering a comforting response to your partner.
In my couples counseling work, the Big Four concepts that I utilize most are:
1. The Speaker-Listener communication process
2. Understanding your basic differences through Myers-Briggs personality types
3. Understanding each other's "Love Language"
4. Attachment styles - perhaps the deepest and most important part of couplehood
Expanding your knowledge and increasing your skills in these four areas provides the basis for working out your differences as a couple, and finding your way toward greater harmoney together.
Do you know the "Speaker-Listener" technique?
This is the foundation of all good communication. One person talks while the other person listens; then, the listener summarizes the information that was shared. It really is simple, but it's not easy! It's meant to slow the process down a lot, and proves to your partner that you really want to hear what they are saying - and vice-versa. It maintains the two most important elements of communicating: staying rational, and keeping a warm feeling. These are the skills you must develop.
When using the Speaker-Listener technique, it's also important that you remember:
- Eye contact may or may not be helpful to your partner
- Touching each other while sharing may be very helpful to the process.
- Don't sound angry. That will defeat the whole purpose. The delivery is key.
- Own your half of the blame and your half of the problem.
- Keep it short and to the point.
In couples counseling, I will meet initially with both members of the couple together for several sessions, and then begin to include individual sessions with each partner. In addition to working on the couple relationship, each individual partner should develop personal goals for how they want to feel differently, communicate better, and interact more positively and productively with their partner.
Of course, when doing couples counseling, there is a no-secrets policy. There is nothing that can be shared with the therapist in your individual sessions that cannot be shared, appropriately, with your partner. In couples counseling, whether meeting together or individually, the "client" is still the couple, and the goal is still to make the couple relationship healthier and stronger.
In couples counseling, you will learn to:
- Communicate more calmly and openly.
- Understand the fundamental personality differences between you and your partner.
- Understand the value and necessity of compromise and finding workable soluations, not perfect solutions.
- Work through anger and pain after an affair, discover if reconcilliation is possible, and begin to rebuild trust.
- Experience confidence and security in yourself, which is the necessary foundation of a strong relationship.
- Understand and resolve deeper, underlying conflicts in your mind that are the pattern for your way of relating.
- See the value of reinvesting your sexual energy in your partner --
- and the advantages of having a sexual partner who knows you very well.
- Learn to be proactive in keeping your bond solid.
Please feel free to contact me, and we can discuss your unique situation. Together we can begin to figure our what the next steps are that move you toward progress in your marriage or relationship.
Hold Me Tight, by Sue Johnson