Therapy for Couples
Couples seek therapy for many reasons.
- Often there is an ongoing conflict the couple feels unable to work through on their own, a topic about which they find themselves continually fighting, or a mode of communicating which feels unproductive but in which they nonetheless find themselves stuck.
- One or both members of the partnership may feel a sense of loneliness, neglect, boredom, or disconnection.
- A breach of trust which feels irreparable may have occurred.
- The difficulties inherent to living a shared life and/or the pressures and demands of the world at large may be causing strain within the relationship.
- Anger and resentment toward one another may now rule where positive feelings once held sway.
Therapy can help in a number of important ways. Couples often hope to, and indeed can, both learn to communicate more effectively and be taught ways to better manage and resolve conflict. They can learn to avoid the pitfalls of contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and withdrawal, find ways to be kinder to one another, and discover the ability to calm themselves when things get heated, all critical interpersonal skills to have in one's set.
But in addition to such skill-building, those in search of a more satisfying, better functioning, less hostility laden relationship, can (and must) be helped through therapy
- to discover and display newfound fondness, respect, and admiration for one another,
- to feel more comfortable depending on and being influenced by one another, and
- to improve their ability to create shared meaning and a sense of purpose together.
Each couple, straight or gay, interracial, inter-generational, or interfaith—whatever the configuration—is a unique union of two individuals, individuals who come to the relationship with a separate histories, philosophies, and points of view. They bring differing ideas and desires, differing feelings and beliefs, differing expectations, fears, and dreams.
Unknown or unexamined, these differences—about anything but especially around issues of dependency, control, commitment, togetherness, sex, love, and fairness—can wreak havoc. Explored, understood, honored (though not necessarily resolved) they can be the building blocks of intimacy, mutual satisfaction, and a relationship in which the positive feeling more often than not overrides the negative. Perhaps, then, therapy's most critical task is to provide a means by which a couple can develop an avid and ongoing interest in knowing and understanding each other (and themselves) as deeply as possible and find the courage and willingness to risk being known.