Has Your Relationship Become Heavy, Hard Or Unfulfilling?
Are you and your partner struggling to communicate and connect in ways that feel nourishing, fulfilling and kind? Do you have the same argument or same kind of argument over and over—often over small things— without coming to any kind of sustainable and balanced resolution? Maybe the foundation of your relationship has been shaken by an infidelity or another breech of trust and you’re questioning if your bond can or even should be repaired. Or perhaps one or both of you is suffering from anxiety or depression, which is impacting on your ability to connect and understand each other’s experience. It may be that kids and careers have taken over the time you once reserved for each other, and you now feel more like roommates than intimate partners. Do you want to reconnect with your partner and feel heard, appreciated, loved and valued for who you are and all you bring to your relationship?
Struggling within an intimate partnership can be a stressful, confusing and lonely experience. You might desperately want to connect with your partner, but a series of ongoing arguments, a significant breech of trust or a lack of intimacy may have you feeling uncertain, hesitant and even nervous about reaching out. You may no longer feel valued, heard or understood by the person you once shared everything with, making you question what provoked such a drastic shift. Maybe you rarely see each other anymore, either due to busy schedules or in a mutual attempt to avoid arguments by avoiding any conversation at all. Money issues, a difference in parenting styles, competing values or arguments over how to distribute household responsibilities may be adding fuel to an already growing fire. Perhaps things are just starting to feel uncertain, or maybe you’ve come to the point where you’re wondering if you’d both be happier apart.
All Couples Bump Up Against Challenges
If you’re struggling in your intimate partnership, you are not alone. Almost all couples go through periods of strife in their relationships. We’re all human beings with differing personalities and our own way of doing things. Sometimes—especially in the beginning of relationships—personalities gel and the connection feels exciting and solid. But often after time, differences in communication styles, values and other issues arise, prompting disagreements and disconnection.
There is also an ongoing societal ideal of a fairytale ending—that once a couple is married or makes a long-term commitment to one another, life will go on happily ever after. While this is a pleasant thought, real relationships take work, and after the honeymoon stage ends—which it inevitably does—real life happens and our true selves come out. We may become angry when expectations go unmet or become complacent and find ourselves going through the motions without feeling any true joy or making any real effort to nurture our relationship. Resentments can build, and kids, careers and daily responsibilities take over the time we once spent connecting with and enjoying our partner. Same-sex couples, too, experience all the same relationship problems as heterosexual couples, but often will have another layer of challenges. Family choices, acceptance concerns and discrimination issues can be difficult for even the most loving partnership to endure.
All couples could benefit from couples counseling, however, there are times when a skilled third party is needed to help restore health and harmony to a relationship. Whether you’re looking for traditional marriage counseling, LGBT couples therapy or general couples therapy, there is help and hope for restoring connection, effective communication, trust and intimacy to your relationship. An experienced, compassionate and skilled couples therapist can help you and your partner get to the root of your issues, increase empathy for one another and start working as a connected team again.
Couples Counseling Can Provide You With Support, Skills, Insight And Awareness
When both partners want to explore themselves as both individuals and partners and are willing to engage in the relationship counseling process, couples therapy can be extremely effective. In fact, truly anything is possible. A skilled couples therapist can help you flush out your individual and collective concerns, improve communication, understand the masculine and feminine characteristics that both genders exhibit and gain a better understanding of each other. You can discover and appreciate who your partner is today by creating a dialogue and dynamic that honors, appreciates and supports each other’s values, desires and needs.
In couples therapy sessions, your Center for Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry therapist can help both you and your partner explore the issues that are creating conflict, refocus on the values each of you hold dear and develop the type of relationship you want to cultivate. You can learn effective communication skills so you can really begin to hear and understand what each other is expressing. Improving communication can lead to increased mutual understanding and empathy and help you to become responsive to each other rather than reactionary.
If your relationship has suffered an infidelity or another breech of trust, your therapist can help you navigate the big emotions of anger, betrayal, distrust, guilt, shame and uncertainty. You can take the time to really hear and understand each other’s experience. If the passion in your relationship has died out, your therapist can help you explore ways to bring more excitement and desire into your relationship and offer ideas on how to keep things feeling fresh and alive. As you work through these issues, you can re-build trust, respect and appreciation for each other. You can reconnect and cultivate increased intimacy. You can continue to build on your strengths and take comfort in knowing that the relationship matters to you both.
With guidance, support and a willingness to engage in the relationship counseling process, it is possible to not only improve your relationship, but to truly rekindle the spark and connection that once drew you together. You can learn how to talk things through and support each other through life’s inevitable stresses. You can trust each other again. You can fall in love again. You and your partner can come out the other side of couples therapy feeling more connected and stronger than ever.
You still may have questions or concerns about couples counseling…
I think that we desperately need marriage counseling, but my partner is reluctant to attend.
In all honesty, couples counseling is only truly effective when both partners are present and willing to engage in the process. That said, you engage in relationship counseling on your own. Change can begin with one person, and by making personal changes, you can create a shift in the dynamic of your relationship. A lot can be discovered on your own, and it is possible that once your partner sees you happier and making different, healthier personal choices, he or she may feel more comfortable and even compelled to join you in sessions.
I’m not sure that anything—even couples therapy—can help at this point.
If your relationship has become painful, we invite you to schedule an initial couples counseling session to explore the issues and engage in a guided conversation about what you both want out of your relationship now. If you both want to make it work, your therapist can help you figure out first steps toward healing, especially if an addiction, affair or a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, is impacting the relationship. If, however, you decide that it is time to end the relationship, your therapist can help you separate amicably. A peaceful ending to your relationship can save you both a lot of financial and emotional strain and is in everyone’s best interest, especially if there are children involved.
We’ve heard that couples counseling is expensive and can take a long time.
The length of time spent in counseling really depends on the couple and their issues, needs, therapy goals and mutual willingness to engage in the work. Some couples can get through the process in as few as six sessions, while others will need/want more ongoing support.
From a financial perspective, we accept various insurance plans, which may cover or can help mitigate costs. The bottom line, however, is that your relationship and happiness is important, and couples counseling is an investment in the health of your relationship and your personal wellbeing. Intimate partnerships are often the cornerstone of our lives, and when you feel supported, secure and fulfilled in your relationship, all aspects of your life benefit.
You Can Cultivate A Nourishing, Loving Relationship
You don’t have to navigate this challenging time on your own. We invite you to call 847-440-2281 to schedule an initial appointment and/or for a brief phone consultation. We’re happy to discuss your specific needs and to answer any questions you have about couples counseling and our practice.