Couples Counseling

Sometimes relationship problems feel like fighting, taking sides, defensiveness, misunderstanding, and ultimately acting like people you don’t want to be.

Sometimes relationship problems feel like quiet distance, loneliness, polite conversation about everything but what is going on between you.

Sometimes relationship problems feel like you are chasing your partner, trying to get a response, trying to get some buy-in, never getting back as much as you put in. Or maybe you are the one who is always being chased, bothered, never good enough, accused of never showing up in the right way.

These are just three possible ways you could feel, and if you can relate I’ll bet you’re wondering how I could characterize your situation so well. It’s because they are all very common ways humans respond to tension in relationship. You did not get here because you are bad at relationships. You got here because you and your partner are human.

The trick is to notice the pattern. The trick is to learn what it means, who you are, and how to be there for each other in a different way than the one you’ve played out countless times before. The trick is to not get caught in a dance that is moving you instead of you moving it.

Couple’s work identifies common themes, explains who you are, and more importantly, what you need to be happy. This work was designed to get to the bottom of why you fight, or why you avoid fighting, or why you chase each other around. Most significantly, it works to help you know yourself, how to ask for what you need, and how to anticipate and meet the needs of your partner.

But what if you have a different problem? What if your relationship is different than what is commonly seen?

To some extent every relationship is a variation on the themes above. Family upbringing, cultural expectations, whether or not you have kids, traumas you have suffered all contribute to the unique make-up of your relationship. The patterns are how human nature comes into play, but they are not the whole picture. Other tools can help customize the experience to your needs.

I’ll bet you’re also wondering what to do if you want to work on the relationship, but your partner doesn’t. It’s a good point because the first obstacle of couple’s work is to get everyone to the table. Most of the time people want to do something about the discomfort of not getting along with a partner. Perhaps the hesitation is that your partner is losing hope that the relationship can be repaired. If that is the case, it is the perfect time to get support. Part of my job is to highlight the areas that can, and do, improve with time and attention- so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So let’s talk about time, money and effort. In therapy, you get out what you put in. The first misconception about relationships is that if you and your partner are a “good fit” everything will work itself out on its own. Good relationships take work, but most people agree it’s worth it. Counter to what we have come to believe, improving your primary relationship is actually a great way to find a fuller expression of yourself. Within the safety of strong, satisfying relationships, individuals can blossom into the people they’ve always longed to become. When we are happy, we take risks, manage our day-to-day tasks with less stress, and find ways to become who we’ve always wanted to be. If you add to that the joy of having someone cherish you for just being you, you’ve got something worth fighting for.

Finally, if you are wondering how to pick a therapist, here are some things you might consider:

  1. Find someone you feel comfortable with- you will end up sharing details about your life with this person, and you’ll need to be able to trust her/his guidance.
  2. Make sure your partner is comfortable with your therapist.
  3. Compare styles and methods of therapy- if you don’t know a lot about different methodologies feel free to ask potential therapists how they work.
  4. Ensure the situation is sustainable for the foreseeable future. Good couple’s work can take some time, there is a lot to sort through and you want to get it right.

If you are wondering about my style, I will tell you a little bit about myself: I am an existential therapist who specializes couple’s counseling. In session I tend to teach lots of skills, offer weekly homework (so you can get some practice with the tools you’ve learned), and strive to make sure you understand the dynamics of your relationship every step of the way. I use personality assessments in order for you to know yourself, and for your partner to know how to make you happy. My ultimate goal is to have you so knowledgeable about your own needs and your partner’s needs that you can solve anything that comes your way at home with just the support of your partner.

While I use techniques and methodologies from lots of schools of thought (including Gottman, PACT, EFT and RLT), I tend to call on what is most effective for the couple in front of me in the moment. What is consistent throughout is my lens as a fellow human traveler, a deep empathy for the struggle you are facing, and a genuine acceptance of the messier side of relationships. At my core I believe that a great relationship can make all the difference for you, and I am always fighting to help yours emerge.

If this sounds like a good fit for you and your partner, I would love to offer you a free 30-minute consultation. I invite you to come to my office, meet me, ask some questions and get a feel for the process.

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