Why would you seek couples counseling?
In the beginning, you’re in love, and it feels really good. But somewhere along the line, whether in the first year or the 20th year, you realize that parts of the relationship just aren’t working. Clients often tell me, “I love her, but I’m not ‘in love’ with her anymore.”
That happens for many reasons, some of them very fixable with the help of a skilled and wise counselor. I believe I am that counselor.
Couples communication is the No. 1 skill I teach. Resolving conflicting values and behaviors is not easy, but I can help you develop ways to disagree without damaging your relationship. I can help you better understand what your partner really is saying, deep down and between the lines. I can help your partner express it more clearly.
Which of these patterns do you recognize in communication with your partner, on your part of his?
Dr. John Gottman calls these The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse — they’re that bad for a relationship. Dr. Gottman has conducted 40 years of extensive research on the attributes of healthy and unhealthy relationships, and I use his findings and therapy techniques in counseling with couples.
Dr. Gottman knows that all couples experience conflict. The purpose of counseling is to learn how to resolve some issues, and for the problems he calls “perpetual,” how to cope with the tension of agreeing-to-disagree. I can teach you that.
What will you get from couples counseling?
You’ll learn those communication skills, as well as mutual appreciation for your life dreams, which you have created from your individual sets of values. When you understand a “value” that lies underneath a choice, you are more understanding.
At the end of most sessions, I will send you home with small, achievable goals so you can see the progress of your work immediately.
It is true that couples counseling can be uncomfortable, because we do have to confront the “problems” and each of you must own up to your part in them. But not every session will be about “problems.” We’ll do some fun exercises that help you deepen your understanding of your partner and yourself.
A word about infidelity
Infidelity in its many shades is common, and often is complicated by today’s instant communication via cellphone, text, email and social media. Many couples can overcome infidelity. You just don’t hear about it, because they keep it to themselves, unlike a break-up or divorce. Counseling is the right place to air emotions over infidelity and recommit to each other. I usually approach counseling around infidelity with a three-step process, the first being crisis management. You need to rise from the shock and hurt some in order to fully understand what happened, why it happened, and whether you can repair your relationship.