Relationship Counseling: How it Works
Couples therapy offers a tremendous opportunity for partners to work towards creating better, more fulfilling, deeper, richer connections with each other. Initially the process is about meeting and getting to know the therapist, and vice versa to see if the chemistry is right.
As the couple gets more known in therapy certain realities will emerge. A big reveal is that virtually no couple can work through certain stuck points in their relationship without the help of another. When you are in the relationship you cannot see the forest for the trees.
Essential aspects of the mix are too close to us, remain unseen, hidden from view. We cannot see our own backsides. Most every relationship has blind spots. These blind spots come out when we feel like we are in an echo chambers, a hall of mirrors, parallel universes. These places have a tendency to spiral down into hurtful power struggles.
The Good Stuff and The Tough Stuff
Most couples will attest to how great they feel about the relationship when it is going well. Usually partners have times that are full of joy, rely on each other for support in life, and have many places with each other that fill them up with good feelings.
Whether couples have an abundance of good stuff, or not, the key to a successful relationship is having tools to work through the tough stuff. Let’s face it, the tough stuff in life has a longer half-life then the good stuff. Many couples attest to the experiences that a great two weeks together can be all but wiped out by one tough disagreement, or argument.
Disagreements big or small require a couple to know how to engage themselves and each other so no matter what decisions are being made, the relationship is prioritized. Like most things in life, this is much easier said than done. This is where a quality therapeutic relationship can be so valuable.
Much of the therapeutic process becomes about helping a couple learn how to be in most any disagreement and still find a way to get closer. This process takes some time because, first we must figure out what is bound up in the destructive tendencies each might bring to disagreements. Then we must learn new ways to be in the intensities so we can have more in life.
Learning About Marriages Mostly Comes About Through Osmosis
Most of us learn how to have a marriage through the process of osmosis. We cannot avoid absorbing the styles, the tendencies, the feeling states, the ways of moving through life and a marriage from our parents. In these ways our parents become our primary role models for how to be in a marriage.
When it comes to figuring out how to conduct ourselves in a marriage most of us will do exactly what our parents did or the exact opposite. Usually we enlist a combination of behaviors, attitudes and ideologies that are identical to and opposite from of our parents.
To make things exponentially more complex, by definition the above formula is only half of the equation. Likely our partners come to the committed relationship based on the same formula, that is, doing it just like his parents or the exact opposite depending on the factors.
Here in lies the rub. Couples become so familiar to each other that mostly we have a difficult time knowing where one starts and the other stops. This lack of perspective often becomes the source of what fuels reactivity in both partners.
Couples often will complain how each partner knows exactly how to “push their buttons”. Once we get our buttons pushed things tend to heat up, or cool down at warp speed.
A key goal in the therapeutic process becomes about how to become less and less reactive. This is a highly complex process that takes time because these “buttons” usually represent places in us that are loaded with psychic energy. That is, there are places in all of us that feel unresolved, or left behind, or in some way wounded from a myriad of events and experiences long ago.
A trusted guide offers partners various new ways through these tricky spaces so that members can untangle the knots and see their parts with more clarity. None of this is easy, and there are no short cuts.
Our culture is organized around quick fixes. Most of us want relief fast, especially from tough marital tensions. While couples often find relief to some extent relatively quickly by entering therapy, sustainable gains require hard work over time. Therapy becomes a mutual commitment between the partners in the couple and the therapist to help everyone get to a better place.
Cross cultural religious studies have revealed that when we experience troubles, crisis or loss we seek out a relationship with another. This relationship historically was with a religious leader or community elder. In today’s modern world this person is a therapist.
This special relationship that we seek needs to be contained. That is, it must occur in designated, walled off space and time. This boundary creates a sacred space for us to look inward. Through this introspection we can begin to articulate our murky inner worlds. This speaking our truths is an integrative process so we can bring more of ourselves into the world. Finding the right therapist for your primary relationship has the potential to improve the quality of your marriage, your family and your life.
When you feel ready to break free please reach out to at 202-421-3366 Or send me a message using the form below to schedule a time to meet me at my Bethesda office or at my Annapolis office.