A dysfunctional relationship seldom gets better on its own, but couples often “hope” they will. Most couples (married or not) wait until they are at their breaking point to seek relationship counseling. This is unfortunate. A person wouldn’t wait until they were blind to see an ophthalmologist. A person wouldn’t wait until they have only one tooth left to see a dentist. But couples wait until they can’t stand the sight of each other before they see a counselor… and even then it’s iffy.
Why is this? Usually one of the partners doesn’t want to explore counseling as an option, instead they want to work it out themselves or continue believing that nothing is wrong. This is often because the partner does not want to feel “broken”, “defeated”, or “inadequate”. A partner may feel uneasy talking to a complete stranger about their relationship issues because it makes the partner feel vulnerable, and that he/she might be judged in the process. Also, either or both partners, may be afraid the counselor is going to say, “it’s all your fault.” There are any number of reasons why a couple waits too long to seek out therapy, but if your partner says you need to go to counseling, you need to go to counseling.
Seeking Relationship Counseling
With relationship counseling, a counselor is more of a translator or mediator. Non-judging, and impartial, the counselor helps each partner express thoughts and opinions in a way that the other partner has been unable to understand. The majority of the couples that come into my office have failed to realize that they do not think with the same brain. They live in two completely different minds, two completely different perceptions, yet they act as if their partner should know what they are thinking and understand what they are saying. Just because a couple speaks English does not mean they speak the same language. This is why couples counseling focuses a great deal on communication. Once a couple can communicate, they understand each other – and vice-versa. Then each partner can express thoughts in a way that reduces and resolves conflict, while deepening the connection.
Sex & Money
While sex and money are said to be the primary reasons that relationships experience issues, it seems to be more about connection and security, therefore sex and money are just a small part of a larger issues. Getting more sex, or making more money, is not going to necessarily fix the underlying problem. The desire for intimacy and security can be psychosomatic, and relying on your partner to alleviate your issues can place your partner in the role of savior or tormentor. So, yes… sex and money are often the reason why clients seek counseling, but the underlying issues may be something both partners have not yet considered.
Counseling The Relationship
When working with a couple I help them learn how to communicate with each other while using timeline therapy, cognitive therapy, and other theories including the concept of love languages to help them discover the cause of their issues, and then help them move forward. I often give homework that allows our sessions to be more productive and to create discussions at home. Every couple is different, so I meet with each member of the couple individually and together as well.
By law, anything shared in the individual sessions is kept strictly confidential unless I am given permission by the individual to share the information with his or her partner with no exceptions
There are as many types of relationships as there are people in them. No one relationship is the same, or should be. The trick is making your relationship not only work for you, but also have it become something that enriches your lives. Couples often bring in issues that deal with communication, infidelity, sexual difficulties, financial disagreements, differences in parenting, depression and/or anxiety, and differences in life goals, religion, morals, and values. These are all areas that need careful navigation and attention. Commonly, people think of these issues as “deal breakers,” but that is not always the case. When managed and worked through in a healthy way, a relationship often becomes stronger despite the differences.