How Couples Therapy Helps
Couples therapy can help couples improve their relationship by showing them how to resolve conflict and communicate more effectively.
This can help a couple to better understand each other, improve the emotional connection and strengthen the marital bond.
Problems with communication can be a common obstacle in therapy. Lack of communication can cause a couple to make inaccurate assumptions about the other person’s needs, thoughts and feelings.
One of the big problems I see as a marriage counselor is one partner wanting the other partner to change. While I think this is a natural occurrence, the challenge often has to do with how these feelings are being expressed.
For example, it may be fine to nicely ask someone to consider changing a particular behavior. In contrast, it’s probably not so nice to demand that your partner changes.
Changing Behaviors in Couples Therapy
When a couple comes to couples therapy, they are looking for a change. Often what they really want is for their partner to change a specific behavior. For example, they might want their partner to change their work habits and hope that the marriage counselor will facilitate this change.
Couples therapists tend to see change a little differently and look at the focus of change being certain specific dynamics within the relationship, such as communication. Typically, a couples therapist believes that both partners need to change in order to improve the problems in the relationship.
Being Open and Honest in Therapy
Another common obstacle in communication is not taking responsibility for your part in your relationship problems. When I do couples counseling, it sometimes feels like a courtroom where each partner is trying to effectively state their side and receive validation that they are indeed correct.
To this I like to say that there is what he said, what she said, and what really happened. In other words, all of our perceptions are somewhat flawed, especially when it comes to looking at ourselves our loved ones.
In order for couples therapy – and ultimately the marriage — to be successful, both partners must acknowledge that they are contributing to whatever problems there are. Often a simple admonishment of taking responsibility can cause a huge shift in a relationship.
Creating The Marriage You Want
It probably should not be surprising that some people begin couples counseling with secrets, such as an affair or addiction. This is a major obstacle to change in the marriage and creates a problem for the couples counselor because he or she does not have the whole story.
While it is perfectly natural to want to keep secrets from your therapist, it is counterproductive. If you’re keeping a secret from your therapist or your spouse, consider its implications for your therapy and your relationship. Secrets not only destroy trust in a marriage, they can lessen our self-confidence. As an experienced couples therapist, I can assist you with this process and your relationship will likely be stronger and have greater integrity.