What is Couple’s Therapy?
Couple’s therapy (or couples counseling) is designed to assist couples in resolving their conflicts, improve their communication and deepen their connection so they can live more harmoniously, more peacefully and more passionately with each other.
Most of us recognize that it is not easy for two people to be compatible. Two people often have different lifestyles, tastes, sleep schedules, food preferences, social styles and goals—among many other differences—all of which can lead couples to fear that they will not be able to live together and/or maintain a loving, passionate relationship with each other over time.
Also, most people recognize that it is hard—not easy—to negotiate and compromise about such things as religious beliefs and preferences (especially when children are involved), parenting styles, where to live, how to wisely and effectively manage your money, differing sexual appetites, jealousy, trust issues, differing ambitions and career goals, different definitions of romance, different priorities regarding how to spend your time—well, you get the idea. There is an endless number of potential conflicts a couple can get into.
So what can you do about all of this? That is where relationship therapy comes in.
What Does Couples Therapy Involve?
A good couple’s therapist in your first session of relationship therapy will ask you what made you seek out couples counseling, and ask you to describe what you are wanting different in your relationship.
Often, two people will say entirely different things. One person may talk about the relationship being distant, while the other may say their sex life is on life-support. One person may talk to the couples therapist about feeling judged or criticized, while the other may say that s/he feels alone and lonely in the relationship. One person may say that their intimate partner works too much and is seldom around, while the other describes that s/he no longer trusts the other.
In couples counseling, your therapist will:
- Attempt to discover what is causing these conflicts/issues
- Assist the two of you in communicating effectively (which involves talking and being an extremely good listener, both)
- Attempt to assist the two of you in resolving these issues
- Do repair work and/or anger resolution
- Teach the two of you how to do this type of repair work on your own
- Assist the two of you in reconnecting with each other
- Often (not always) assist your relationship in becoming more romantic again
- Sometimes do follow-up work to make sure the relationship is on track and is not falling back on old negative habits
Does Couple’s Therapy Work?
If you choose the right therapist who is able to give the two of you good couples counseling, absolutely.
However, not all people who come to couple’s therapy are actually interested in saving their relationship. And some people come too late, when one or both of them are past the point of no return. Therefore, it is way more effective to begin couples counseling when you can see the writing on the wall, but before the relationship has fractured.
When Does Relationship Therapy Not Work?
It takes maturity to compromise, to admit when you have been insensitive or self-absorbed, to apologize, to make an agreement and then to follow up and honor that agreement through your words, deeds and touch—and to keep honoring the agreement over time. It takes maturity to see things from your partner’s point of view, and to show understanding and empathy for his or her emotions.
It takes maturity to be able to hear your partner’s hurt, fear or anger without getting angry or defensive in return. It takes maturity to learn from your mistakes or oversights and to hold yourself accountable for your behavior and actions into the future. And it takes maturity to be open and honest in the face of someone else’s hurt or anger. In the absence of that maturity, couples counseling cannot work.
Therefore, relationship therapy only works well for grown-ups. Actually, I will go further than that. A healthy relationship only works well for grown-ups, period.Schedule a couples therapy appointment today