When couples experience distress in their marriage, it is often related to one or both partners being faced with additional responsibilities or pressures. Events such as job promotions or losses, becoming new parents, conflicts with extended family or in-laws, or medical concerns can place added stress on the closeness and connection between partners. These events and the added stress they bring can contribute to miscommunication that often escalates into conflict or fighting. Eventually, the couple falls into a negative pattern of communicating and relating that provides no resolution to current problems and often leads to further conflict.
Couple therapy can help married and unmarried partners break their cycles of fighting, yelling, or repeated conflict. It is common for partners to defer asking for help, often for years, each trying to cope with the mounting stress in their own ways. It can be difficult for partners to acknowledge to an outside person how long they have been spinning their wheels, or how much their arguing can escalate in the heat of the moment. By the time a couple seeks therapy, they may have lost sight of the strengths in each other and in the relationship. Good couple therapy does not remain focused on problems; successful therapy includes a focus on your strengths and in the successes in your relationship as well.
Couples who would benefit from couple therapy often find themselves in a pattern of conflict that both escalates and then resolves poorly. Some couples report, “we keep having the same basic fight over and over." Intense arguing with hot emotions can then lead one or both partners to put up walls or shut down as a way of coping. Over time, these times of disconnection can then lead to feelings of despair or resentment as the cycles continue. Good couple therapy will seek to repair the connection between partners and heal the feelings of bitterness. One partner who is already feeling picked on may resist couple therapy, thinking "I'm going to be blamed for all our problems." Good couple therapy is not built on the idea that one person has all the responsibility for creating the difficulties; rather, couple therapy focuses on the shared responsibility for creating a better relationship.
Beginning individual therapy is a personal choice that reflects a desire for change in some area of one's life. You may be concerned with managing recent or persistent stress at home or at work. Perhaps you are suffering from the debilitating and isolating effects of anger and depression following the loss of a loved one.
Psychotherapy can be especially helpful when anxiety or depressed mood have become overwhelming and consuming, and your ability to cope has reached its limit. For some, the effects of past trauma or dysfunctional family patterns continue to impact their life and relationships in negative and destructive ways.
Psychotherapy that positively impacts your future must begin within a warm and supportive environment where you feel accepted and respected. A therapeutic alliance based on confidentiality and safety then becomes a source of healing--facilitating personal change and growth that will enable you to successfully address your individual concerns.
OTHER COMMON REASONS COUPLES SEEK COUNSELING:
- Couples in conflict about managing the new roles and responsibilities of becoming parents, or differing views about parenting
- Couples with differing perspectives related to boundaries, decision-making, work-life balance, finances, intimacy, or extended family concerns
- Couples impacted by the use of alcohol or drugs by one or both partners, or other habits that are negatively impacting the relationship
- Couples facing the immediate and longer term effects of a significant betrayal from an affair, or to repair trust from some kind of boundary violation.
- Couples in second marriages seeking to “blend” their families together, while building a foundation in their marriage
- Couples who are impacted by negative early childhood experiences, by one or both partners, that are being re-enacted or re-experienced in the relationship.
COMMON REASONS TO SEEK INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOTHERAPY:
A recent loss or major adjustment, death of a loved one, family or job crisis
Increased stress related to positive or negative changes at home or at work
Repairing relationships when boundaries have been violated
Family of origin dysfunctional patterns which have become persistent and frustrating
Concerned about your own or a loved one's alcohol or drug use, or other negative and destructive behaviors
Managing painful emotional reactions
Depression, Anxiety, or Mixed Moods
Healing from childhood experiences of abuse or neglect, trauma, PTSD
Parenting teens and young adults
Recovering from low self-esteem, negative self-talk, or loss of direction in life