We all know that anything worth having is worth working for, and that goes doubly true with regard to our intimate relationships.
I encourage you to believe in your relationship. Have faith in the love that brought you two together in the first place. And even when neither of you has any hope left, I can carry the hope for the both of you, until you get your second wind, and start to believe again.
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 conveying to your partner that you're supposed to be a team. Your partner is supposed to have your back, and vice versa. Sometimes couples will lose sight of this essential concept.
I take a more active and directive approach in working with clients and with couples, offering insights, feedback, and encouragement. Although I incorporate elements of self-taught Gottman and Emotionally Focused couples counseling, my specialization is in doing deeper work with couples. I find that many, if not most, couples I work with need Depth psychology for real transformation, and not just tinkering around the edges.
Check out this great article from HuffingtonPost Highline:
The article talks about how much science has gone into studying relationships; what makes them good and what makes them bad, what makes them work and what makes them go wrong. A lot of good information has been discovered, and that information has been turned into couples workshops that aim to teach people what they've discovered about happy couples.
But the article goes on to point out that just knowing what works for other couples may or may not work for you and your partner. In fact, there's a high probability that knowing what works for other couples won't work for you and your relationship, because in the end every relationship is unique and love is a complex and mysterious thing. There's still nothing that beats personalized couples counseling with a therapist that really gets you.
When couples first arrive for couples counseling, there is often already "a lot of water under the bridge." Or, another way of looking at it, there's a lot of muddy water in the bucket of the relationship. In couples counseling, we put that bucket of muddy water under a faucet of clean water, and we begin to run clean water into the bucket. At first, that may stir up even more mud in the water; but soon the muddy water begins to spill over and spill out, and as you keep going, the bucket is filled more and more with new, clean water.
What does that mean practically speaking?
In couples counseling, you will learn to:
- Deal with frustrations, conflict, and arguments
- Work through differences in spending money and raising kids
- Work on feeling close, feeling supported, and feeling like a team
- Have a plan and go forward in the same direction together
- Deal with alcohol use/abuse and/or other substance use
- 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 solutions, not perfect solutions.
- Work through anger and pain after an affair, discover if reconciliation 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.
In my couples counseling work, the Big Four concepts that I utilize most are:
1. Developing a pro-active communication style
2. Understanding & working positively with personality types
3. Understanding each other's "Love Language"
4. Attachment styles - perhaps the deepest and most important part of couplehood ~ Read More
Expanding your knowledge and increasing your skills in these and other important areas provides the basis for working out your differences as a couple, and finding your way toward greater harmony together.
The simple, but important "Speaker-Listener" technique is the essence of good communication. It's simple, but it's not easy. It promotes the two most important elements of communicating: staying calm, and keeping a warm feeling. This is one aspect of the new skill set you must develop in order to successfully address the areas of difficulty and conflict in your relationship.
Regarding couples counseling, author James Hollis writes, "The partner is neither rescuer nor enemy, only partner. Perhaps the ideal model for couples therapy would be for each person to be in individual therapy, to get a better fix on developmental needs, as well as attending sessions together to deal not only with exhausted patterns of the past, but hopes and plans for the future."
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.
On Love: “Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. No feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called ‘being in love’ usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were.