The person we love can evoke our greatest joy and sense of satisfaction, and at other times provoke our deepest sadness or most fiery anger.
My job is to help you really understand your needs in this relationship and help you respond to each others needs – and help you learn about the moments when you hurt each other in your dance and how you can keep your emotional balance in those moments. Only 18% of therapists doing couple therapy in the US actually have training in couples work! I am among that 18%
Once you can keep your balance with each other, my goal is to show you how to come close and express your softer feelings and needs in a way that helps your partner respond to you – so you can build a secure lasting bond.
Do affairs or bitter fighting mean the end of a relationship? Not necessarily. Some couples look back on an affair or bitter fighting as a difficult turning point in their marriage, after which they learned to be more loving, closer, and honest with each other.
What we want from our relationships today – emotional intimacy, vibrant sharing, and deep understanding – is radically different from the simple companionship that our parents’ generation typically expected of marriage.
Holding to the unconscious lessons you learned from your parents about intimacy will be unlikely to get you the relationship you want. Couples therapy is about learning new skills that make your relationship work better. Good relationships require good relationship skills. These skills can be learned.
The belief that love is enough to make your relationship succeed is akin to believing that all a car needs to move forward is an engine.
There are so many ways to sabotage a relationship. Couples sometimes sabotage their relationship by a belief that “love should be enough,” or a belief that unbridled self-expresion is the hallmark of good loving, or by holding on to the blind fantasy that a perfect mate will fulfill all your needs, or believing that all conflicts in a relationship need to be resolved for the relationship to work.
Couples counseling is not about re-living old fights or endlessly highlighting your habitual mistakes in communication. Couples psychotherapy will teach you a new standard of positive communication, and this will serve as your internal benchmark for how well you are doing. This new benchmark will become your tool for consistently monitoring your own communication style.
I can lead you from surface conflicts quickly to deeper work. Deep couples work confronts each partner with an understanding of their family-of-origin issues, as well as their partner’s, and an understanding of how the current relationship is being used – for better and worse – to heal childhood wounds.
Deep couples counseling brings a new respect for the vulnerabilities and struggle you share in making your partnership work. This gives a stronger foundation for your love for each other. Often a client knows exactly what their partner’s “buttons” are, but continues to impulsively push them. The result is an escalation of hurt and anger, and so the surface conflicts keep going around and around – distracting both partners from learning new skills. The impulsive pushing of buttons can be a puzzle to both partners. I lead couples to deeper work that brings a more compassionate understanding of these hot buttons. Compassionate understanding creates a safe place to learn the new skills that are necessary for working through a conflict rather than getting mired in a chronic battle.
Some couples think they ought to try individual therapy to work on their separate issues before attempting couples therapy. I’m reminded of a joke in the New Yorker several years ago: a man is saying “I know I have intimacy issues. I just want to work on them by myself.” The sad fact is that research finds an extremely high rate of divorce when each partner engages in individual psychotherapy without doing couples therapy or marriage therapy.
It is working with a couple in the here-and-now that helps them work through crises. Self-help books or individual or couples counseling can only go so far. Whether you call it couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling or or marriage therapy, the work is the same.
All Couples Have Differences and Troubles
Happy Couples Have Learned How to Deal With Them
Communicating Poorly? Learn a Whole New Standard
Conflict? Learn to Discuss Differences In Depth without Escalating
Distancing in Cold Silence? Learn to Cool Down without Exiting!
Infidelity & Affairs? Re-establish Safety and Trust
Angry? Transform Anger Into a More Gentle Connection
Money & Finance Problems? Put a “Safety” on your Triggers
Sex Gone Downhill? Find Your Passion Again!
Dealing with In-Laws? Learn How to Set Boundaries
Intimacy? Share A Deeper You
Power Struggles or Co-Dependency? Learn Your Underlaying Power-Dynamics
Trouble Making Joint Decisions? Learn to “Seal the Deal”
Balancing Time & Priorities? Reclaim Time for What is Most Important
Moving Apart? Create A Shared Vision