There have been several occasions where I sit with a couple for the initial session and I hear “I cannot believe that we are here – how pathetic”. The belief being that if you are entering into couple’s therapy, you have somehow managed to “fail” as a couple. This is a myth that I work on disproving the moment we begin our work. It is true, that there are couples out there who perhaps need to separate from each other that are somehow toxic for each other and some that can work through their issues and remain together. The only failure would be to pretend that perhaps, therapy is not needed.
Entering into couple’s therapy is frightening and courageous thing to do. Anytime I have a couple in front of me I acknowledge that the fact that these are two people who are willing to take a look at what their part in the dysfunction may be. That is not always the case and there are those who seek out therapy so the therapist can “fix” the spouse. “Tell him that he is wrong!” or vice versa. Couples therapy is not about proving who is right or who is wrong It is about providing a safe place where thoughts, feelings, beliefs can be expressed without being shut down, dismissed or invalidated by your partner. The number one issues that presents itself in couple’s therapy usually is a lack of communication. Somewhere along the line the two have lost the ability to effectively communicate with each other. Part of the work is to find out how or why this breakdown in communication occurred.
Each couple bring with them a life of experiences, of beliefs and feelings to the table. If these experiences are not spoke aloud and understood by the other, communication can be broken down, misconstrued and misinterpreted
Each couple has a lens through which they look at life. This could be distorted perception – but as I always say “perception IS reality”. In therapy, each person can say what their experience, their perception is and through discussion and processing, the truth can be revealed.
History of Trauma
How much of your own trauma is being played out and reenacted in the current relationship? Does your partner even know what your emotional triggers are and what I behind those feelings? Again, through the therapeutic process, communication is increased and each can be heard.
Every individual has emotional needs – what they may not have is a way to communicate those needs or even identify what those needs are. Through couples therapy these can be acknowledged and together, the couple can find ways to meet them for each other as well as for themselves.
They key to any relationship is a healthy way of communicating. Living in an age where the art of TALKING has gone by the wayside there leaves a tremendous amount of room for error and misunderstanding. Ask yourself – when was the last time I actually spoke to my partner? No distractions, no electronics – just us. You might be very surprised by your answer.