A Quick Relationship Evaluation:
- Do complaints turn into personal attacks on either you or your partner? (Ex: “You always talk about yourself. You are so selfish.”)
- Do either you or your partner point fingers when trying to solve problems? (Ex: “It’s not my fault we are always late, it’s your fault!”)
- Do either of you make statements about the other? (Ex: You are an idiot.”)
- Do either of you mentally check out when arguing? (That might mean ignoring, walking away, staying physically present but mentally out, or any other way of disconnecting from the discomfort)
If you answered yes to any of the 4 questions, your relationship is in danger…
We call them the 4 Horsemen:
The existence of conflict is not the predictor of success or failure in a relationship, the presence of the above mentioned, are.
If they are present in your relationship, you don’t need to give up, call for help first. There is help, change can happen. It’s not about eliminating conflict, but about learning to deal with conflict differently, and in a ways that don’t further hurt you, your partner, or your relationship.
How we deal with conflict either strengthens our relationship or it hurts it.
Think about it…have you ever argued with your partner and come to some sort of agreement and thought to yourself, “That wasn’t so bad, we can do this.”? It gives you hope for the future each time you make it through something. The same is true on the flip side, an argument that leaves the both of you hurting will lead you to the thoughts, “This will never work, I can’t do this anymore.”
If you are thinking you can’t do this anymore, why not try one more thing? Give change a chance. Better is possible, you just have to be willing, even just the littlest bit.
Even if the 4 Horsemen aren’t present but you are feeling that something could be better in your relationship. Come in for an assessment, we will thoroughly evaluate the relationship and take a look at what can be done to move it forward to a better place.
We Start with an Assessment
I know how badly you might be hurting, how much you want to just get in and jump into the “getting better” part. You’re hurting, you’re sick and tired of the same old same old, and you are desperate for something to change, something to shift for the better. And I want to help.
Assessment is the first step. Assessment is probably the most crucial part of couples therapy and unfortunately its also the most dismissed. If you were to go to a doctor and that doctor didn’t take time to carefully assess your situation, do relevant tests, ask you questions about your complaints and your history but instead asked you to roll up your sleeve and receive an injection of “help serum” and asked you to just trust the process, wouldn’t you be scared?
I won’t do that to you, your relationship is too sacred. “Better” looks different for every relationship. We must first identify the strengths as well as the areas that need improvement in the relationship BEFORE treatment begins. I do not want to waste your time and money working on things that don’t need help. We need a roadmap that is specifically yours, prior to beginning. If we don’t know where we are going, it won’t help to go any faster.
I don’t point fingers at either partner, I look at the couple as a unit together and the relationship as something that is outside of you and your partner, its the entity that we are trying to bring a renewed health to, the assessment is designed to identify the things that are present and detrimental to the relationship as a whole without placing blame on anyone. All of us, together, will be working on the relationship.
Once the assessment is complete, we go over the findings together, identify a treatment plan, and begin.
Even if you were to stop after the assessment, you would leave knowing where the strengths are within your relationship and where there are areas that need improvement. But I hope you stay, because when you are both committed to the relationship and its health, things can get better.
What Does Couples Therapy Look like?
If you have never been to couples therapy before, the idea of it can be kind of scary at best, and downright terrifying at worst. Neither of those are good. Most people have a vision of sitting with their partner on a couch in front of a total stranger and and having to listen as their partner complains about them and the therapist asks how they feel about it. That is not what we do, you can do that at home, and it will be just unsuccessful as if I were to do that with you in the office.
What do we do?
Once we have established a sense of safety and security and have built some rapport we can begin the work that will transform your relationship.
In couples therapy you will learn:
- how to reduce pain and suffering that results from arguments
- how to identify your feelings about particular situations and be able to verbalize them for what they are, without attacking
- how to ask for your wants and needs in a way that reduces the likelihood of an argument ensuing
- various simple exercises designed to help you to like your partner more as a person
- how to be a better listener, an intentional listener, and a compassionate listener while increasing skills that you already have
- how to speak in a way that increases the chance of your being heard
- to value your relationship over feeling the need to win
Every relationship has conflict, if your goal is to eliminate conflict; the only way that is possible is to have no relationship at all. Conflict is part of living life connected to someone who isn’t your clone. Conflict isn’t bad, how we deal with it can be. Ultimately, conflict is what can make or break your relationship. Let’s figure out how to approach it and manage it so that conflict no longer has power over you but you have power, through it.