Have you been feeling distant and detached from your partner?
Above almost everything else in life, we all need to feel loved and cared for by those who are dear to us. When something gets in the way of this it can make other aspects of your life feel difficult and unfulfilling. Your relationship is your home base. If it’s strong and secure you feel good in life. If its shaky and insecure, everything else can feel harder. Chances are, this is what has brought you here. Your relationship has been shaky and you haven’t been feeling great in general. It’s hard to be in this place with your partner. It can be difficult to know what to do, what to say, and how to say it. Couples therapy can help with all of this.
You can feel close and connected again
In couples therapy I have helped lots of people open up to each other, explore their hurt, and become more vulnerable and connected again. As a couples therapist trained in emotionally focused couples therapy (EFT), I work with my clients to explore their own negative cycles that we all get into with our partners. The most common cycle is often referred to as the pursuer/distancer cycle. This is where one person tends to distance from the other when triggered, while the other pursues in search of connection and reassurance. When couples enter into their negative cycles they trigger each other and the pursuing and distancing escalates. Through the context of their negative cycles, I help couples learn how to be more vulnerable with each other, communicate their emotions, and restore feelings of safety and connection.
Everyone has trouble in their relationship(s) at some point or another
Relationships are hard work! The very fact that they take a lot of work is why most people end up in couples therapy. Life is full of difficulties. When things get hard and stressful, we tend to switch into auto pilot / survival mode, and aside from accomplishing what we need to get done, we generally tend to pursue the path of least resistance. This can look like addiction, isolation, or excessive time spent on social media, but most of all, in relationships it means not wanting to deal with difficulties with your partner. It is this avoidance that is often the cause of trouble in relationships. It’s normal to not want to deal with something that comes up in your relationship, but if it becomes common then you miss out on opportunities to connect with each other and can eventually grow apart.
Aside from specific issues like infidelity, this is the most common source of problems I see in couples therapy. Something happens in a couple’s lives together. Maybe they have a kid, someone dies, or they have to move for a job. Things get shaken up, its hard for them, so they both switch into auto pilot mode, working to take care of things, but avoiding the hard stuff with each other, and prioritizing their own pursuit of comfort. Some amount of time later they stop and look at each other and realize they have grown apart. The majority of couples therapy revolves around walking you back to that place where you were connected and able to be vulnerable with each other.
I’m worried that I or my partner will get hurt in couples therapy
It’s common for people to worry about what might come up in couples therapy. It can be scary at first because you will be exploring things with your partner that you may not have talked about in the past or maybe suppressed to avoid conflict. Couples therapy is all about learning how to be vulnerable with each other and communicate emotions in a way that allows the two of you to feel heard and held by the other. Confronting these difficult issues will help you grow as an individual and as a couple. I often say to people that growth in couples therapy can feel hard at times, but its almost always better than the alternative of staying stuck where you are.
How do I get my reluctant partner to come to therapy?
Sometimes it can be hard to get your partner to commit to going to couples therapy. Reluctant partners are often either stuck in that auto pilot place, or they’re afraid of confronting the difficult issues in your relationship. Either way, it can be helpful to reframe your seeking therapy as a desire to be closer and more connected. Explain that you want to go to therapy because you care about and love them, and want to be closer. I can’t tell you how many nervous people I’ve had show up for the first session fearing that their partner was going to reveal they’ve been having an affair or something. Be clear with your partner about what you’re wanting to work on, and the fact that seeking therapy means you’re looking for closeness and connection. Chances are, they’re aware of your concerns and feel something isn’t right too. They’re just fearful of being vulnerable.
More common questions brought up in couples therapy
Five Couples Therapy Relationship Questions Answered – An article of mine that was recently published in Style Magazine-
My approach to couples therapy
I have been seeing people in couples therapy since 2009 and I consider it to be one of my specialties. I am trained in emotionally focused couples therapy (EFT), an evidence based treatment model that has been shown through research to be very effective in helping couples move from distress to recovery and build lasting bonds with each other. As a couples therapist I practice from an attachment perspective. This means that I put emphasis on the innate human need to feel loved, connected, and supported by our loved ones and that we feel good and safe in the world through feeling good and safe in these key relationships.
Give me a call sometime for a free brief phone consultation. We can talk about whats going on in your relationship and how couples therapy might be able to help.
Some posts in my counseling blog related to couples therapy:
Five Couples Therapy Relationship Questions Answered: Style Magazine Article
The Still Face Experiment and Attachment Injuries
Five Keys to a Happy Relationship: Style Magazine Article
Blaming: A Common Problem in Relationships
Couples Therapy and Communication