- [details] Counseling can help your relationship, and doesn’t have to hurt
- [details] Your relationship can survive and even thrive on difference
- [details] Your relationship can come through crisis to be stronger than ever
- [details] Nothing is unforgivable
- [details] Your relationship can be safe and secure
- [details] Your relationship can be sexually satisfying
- [details] You can be a better partner
- [details] Your partner may be better than you realize
- [details] It’s never too late to improve your relationship
- [details] Your relationship can be wonderful!
Studies show that most couples who have counseling together improve their relationship, and they do much better than couples where each partner has only individual counseling (which actually increases the risk of separation and divorce). The approach I use makes counseling even more effective.
Many people worry that counseling will be an endless slog through painful problems, but I see relationships as stuck, not broken. We’ll focus on the future, and the small steps required to put you on a successful path to your shared vision.
In all relationships, partners disagree about major issues such as how to balance work and home life, whether to spend or save, how often to have sex, what time to go to bed, and the best way to raise children.
Successful couples find ways to talk about these issues, to compromise when they can, and to accept when they can’t. Supremely successful couples come to understand that these core differences push them to grow in ways that would have been impossible otherwise.
“The world breaks everyone,” said Hemingway, then added, “and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” The road to relationship maturity begins with the first disaster. Your moments of conflict and despair can lead to a deeper understanding and a richer connection.
A client asked me, “How do couples ever learn to communicate better?” I said, “They go through what you’re going through now.” Similarly, couples therapist David Schnarch noted, “Nobody’s ready for marriage — marriage makes you ready for marriage.”
Every relationship issue you face has been successfully overcome by others. Betrayed, humiliated, blinded with acid — someone, somewhere has forgiven it. This doesn’t mean forgiveness is required or even necessary. It does mean forgiveness is always a possibility.
Emotional and physical abuse is common: People want to connect and be close, but sometimes, out of fear and pain, they hurt their partner. It doesn’t have to be that way. A bit of hope and a clear understanding of respectful, effective ways to act in relationships can transform hurtful behavior into caring action.
Your relationship may have begun in passion, when the air is filled with pixie dust, and the slightest touch of a lover can set up trembling in your bones. If so, coolness and distance may feel particularly difficult. You can rekindle passion from the intimacy of everyday life, finding ways to connect sexually that will see you through the years to come.
It’s usually easy to see your partner’s role in relationship problems, and it’s common to think the solution is for your partner to change. But this leaves you helpless: you can only wait and hope. Wouldn’t it be liberating to discover the ways in which you contribute? Then you can take the initiative to make changes that echo through your relationship and are paid back in increased warmth and love from your partner.
Studies show that, in happy relationships, partners notice almost all the kind acts performed by their partner. But, in distressed relationships, partners see only half of such acts. Perhaps your brain is blinding you to what’s going on, and your partner is more generous than you realize.
If you’re willing to work, things can get better, whether you’re newlyweds or you’ve been fighting for fifty years. Change is always possible!
This is true even if you’re no longer together. Shared history is a treasure, and you can continue to enjoy an important part of you that is held in joint custody with another: the good times, the first times, the hilariously awful vacation, the beloved pet. And never underestimate the enormous benefits of getting along with an ex-partner: maintaining shared friendships, negotiating financial interactions with grace, and co-parenting children in an atmosphere of cooperation and love.
Many people come to counseling in order to try to recapture the good qualities their relationship once had. But why stop there? Most relationships have yet to reach their full potential. It’s not just about eliminating problems; it’s about cultivating joy. Take this moment to begin a journey to deeper emotional and physical intimacy.