“We have something to tell you: we’re getting married!” — Couple
How are we supposed to be ready to handle this?
Nothing forces people towards personal growth the way a relationship does, the biggest mistake we can make is to ignore the call to personal growth that helps to fuel us in our relationships.
Most of us are born with a deep desire to have loving committed relationships, but we aren’t born knowing how to navigate the push and pull of togetherness and individuality. We don’t come equipped to handle the consequences of trying to fulfill those desires for ourselves or for our partners, many people feel they have lost part of themselves in relationships, or fear it so strongly they struggle to maintain closeness.
Relationships aren’t easy. Each couple is unique, bringing two individual histories and family patterns into a complicated emotional web of needs, desires, hopes, hurts, and fears that can inadvertently become a tangled mess. The fact is that most couples will struggle, they will have broken hearts, and they will have terrible disagreements with each other. Often couples in real distress have little idea why they feel so misunderstood, so hurt, and so unable to get what they want from the person they love.
Couples often seek therapy when they are already in significant distress, or have been for many years already, but that isn’t the only reason to seek relationship therapy. Would you like to:
Enhance intimacy and communication
Solve difficult personal differences
Explore premarital counselling
Have support through divorce and amicable separation
Negotiate parenting and co-parenting differences
Develop deeper understanding and empathy with your partner
Resolve conflicts and reduce interpersonal emotional volatility
Ameliorate destructive relationship behaviours and patterns
Address issues of infidelity and repair emotional bonds
Support each other through grief and loss
Repairing the Emotional Bond
In my practice, one the most common focuses of relationship therapy is the repairing of the emotional bond between partners. If you or your partner is currently feeling resentful, angry, or hurt to the point of being demoralized, discouraged, disconnected, and distrusting—this is likely a good starting point. As with most forms of relationship therapy, this begins with the development and practice of communication skills and techniques to help couples talk to each other in clearer and more effective ways. This helps reduce patterns of misunderstanding, criticism, defensiveness, and antagonism. Often couples notice that working with improved communication begins to soften their reactivity but hasn’t solved the problems yet.
Relationship problems don’t exist because of poor communication, they exist because people have different emotional and mental ideas of what a relationship should be, they have different needs, and wants, and desires. They also have different personalities, different tastes, different habits, and different hobbies. And some even have the nerve to leave their dirty socks in the kitchen sink.
Rebuild intimacy and trust through shared commitment and understanding
Learn to support each other’s individual growth by changing reaction to receptivity
Put love into practice, not just words
Expose deep patterns that cause an emotional drive to lash out when we don’t get what we want
Explore how attachment style causes differences in how we handle tension in the relationship
Help each other sooth and heal painful past experiences
Discuss difficult issues with more respect for each other’s different views
Heal from insecurity that drives an anxious and jealous need to control
Reignite and explore sexual intimacy with each other
Providing support to couples in distress has been the greatest honour of my professional career. Relationship therapy isn’t successful for everyone, but for those with the commitment, desire, and determination, there are methods to patch things up and make improvements. When we are able to work together and support each other’s potential to grow and learn, as well as to put aside our own ego, we can make significant leaps in our relationship.