Couples therapy can be a very powerful tool in helping couples improve, strengthen, and heal their relationship. Therapy can help a couple resolve conflict, learn how to communicate more effectively, better understand themselves and their partner, enhance their emotional connection and strengthen their bond. Over the course of any relationship, couples will face obstacles of many forms; however, at times, those obstacles can cause couples to become struck in one way or another. Couples therapy can be very helpful in providing a new perspective to old problems. But there are several common struggles couples face:
Wanting the other partner to change–Many times each partner is looking for the other to change as a quick way of moving through their problem. The problem is: relationships are affected both positively and negatively by each partner, which means both partners contributed in some way to the problems within the relationship. And it normally takes changes from both partners to bring the relationship back to a healthy place. As we are moving through life, we collect, what could be referred to as baggage, which also comes along with us into our relationships. That baggage consists of everything from: bad experiences, ways of communication, habits, ways of thinking, past family dynamics, etc. Often, looking for how that baggage is affecting their current relationship is a good place to begin as many problems originate from the baggage one/or both partners brings into the relationship.
Not acknowledging your role—Couples come into therapy blaming their partner while taking very little responsibility for their own actions. Arguments between them often revolve around statements such as: “You did this” or “I did this because you did that”. In order for couple’s therapy to be effective, both partners have to be willing to look at what their contribution within arguments and ongoing problems are while working on changing their behavior.
Keeping Secrets: This doesn’t mean that each partner has too or needs to tell every secrete, especially prior to their relationship; however, secretes which directly affect the relationship do need to be addressed. Secretes, such as: addiction or affairs can solidify into thick walls which hinder continuing interpersonal intimacy. These types of secretes also seperate the partner carrying the secrete in ways that leave them both isolated and alone. Laying those secretes on the table; although, at times painful, can be the beginning of new healing and growth, and every therapist has their own way of working with secretes and couples.
Not following through:One very large challenge in couple’s therapy is following through with applying specific techniques during the argument. It will take time to even begin to think about using “safe words” or “catchphrase” which are words or phrases that couples agree on to help them to be able to separate during a heated argument as a way of beginning to gain new self-control individually and/or as a team.
Not trusting the process:Problems which have developed within a relationship have generally developed over time—sometimes years prior to the relationship (baggage). One of the struggles couples have coming into therapy is the belief that there is a quick fix for what may have taken years to develop as a problem. There is no three step, four week couples therapy. But there is a process, and sometimes trusting that process is a struggle. Partners have to be ready to invest time and commitment in learning how to be vulnerable with each other; how to express feelings connected to their thought and vise versa; acknowledging each partner’s role in the dance of their relationship; and learning how to hear what the other is truly saying.
Waiting too long: Conflicts and problems within a relationship can be similar to cracks in the base of a dam. The longer they cracks go, the wider, longer, and more destructive they become to the strength of the dam. It is common that couples wait until one partner is ready to end the relationship to seek counseling and by that time, the dam of their relationship may be irreparable. If you are seeing continual conflict or problems which are affecting your relationship look for help as early as you can and come in with an open mind.
Our clinicians are more than willing to begin working with you and your partner.