Love. Understanding. Closeness. Safety. Belonging. We all want these things. In the beginning stages of a relationship, we believe we have what we want and need. Over time, differences and conflicts surface; we don’t know how to get back to that loving, pleasurable place. Instead of staying stuck, some couples enter therapy to get the support and tools they need to be open, to grow, and get close again.
I have a special knack with couples. I’m good at seeing a couple’s core issues. I help partners stop the attack-defend cycle that can happen so quickly. To shift out of attack-defend, this is what is needed: explain your hurt or angry feelings in a way that doesn’t make the other person wrong. Here’s the basic assumption I work from: everyone is doing the best they know how. But our best is not always the best possible. When we look at our behavior without any blame, we can have many chances to grow and improve. As Abraham Lincoln said, we can find “the better angels of our nature.”
When they don’t know another way to be heard or get their needs met, many men and women try to control, get angry, make demands, or pull away. The truth is, other than using physical force or severe emotional abuse, all anyone of us has is the hope that our partner cares enough to listen to us and respond with an open heart. When wevulnerably tell our partner what we’re feeling and hoping for, our chances of getting what we need go way up. If a relationship is to stay vital and interesting, partners need to take risks to vulnerably reveal themselves. Risking can be scary, yet when partners listen and work things through, they feel emotionally closer to each other.
Here are few of the many things that bring couples into therapy:
- One or both partners are critical
- One or both partners have a short fuse or display contempt
- Power struggles occur regularly; arguments are frequent and don’t really get resolved
- One or both partners don’t speak up – or don’t know how yo
- Attention is so focused on work and/or the children that partners grow apart
- Other people or activities take precedent over your partner
My job is to help each partner to:
- Calm down. The most important thing a person can do is to manage his or her upset feelings.
- Listen compassionately to your partner – don’t defend yourself.
- Have a calm, soft start-up to begin a discussion. Learn to say what you feel and want in a way your partner can understand
- Have empathy for yourself and your partner
- Find a way to resolve problems where both partners get their needs met
- Reconnect deeply and from the heart
My sessions with couples are both active and interactive. I pay attention to hurt and complex feelings. I teach you how to problem-solve where you both feel considered and respected. I can help you accept imperfections and deal with unreasonable expectations. I will help both of you open your hearts so you can fall in love all over again.