"Communication" is the first thing I hear when I ask why couples have come to therapy. I’ve yet to meet a couple without COMMUNICATION on their To-Do list for our work together. That's why learning function communication strategies is our first exercise in premarital counseling and couples therapy. “Communication” can mean many different things. It is nearly impossible to listen to someone else’s request when we don’t feel respected, or we feel like the person is AGAINST us. This creates a stalemate with people talking or yelling at each other, giving the silent treatment, or trying other useless efforts like name-calling or sarcasm to get across what they so desperately want to be understood. It takes two to fight.
Often, when couples feel they are in opposition, they aren’t even arguing about the same thing. It’s just that each person is so stuck trying to convince their partner of something, they can’t hear anything. It’s fascinating to see how very genuine each partner’s desires, wants or needs are and how invisible those are to The Other person who has desires, wants or needs of his or her own that aren’t being met. When two people want two different things, which always happens when two different people attempt to go through life together, it can be difficult to drop your agenda long enough to cross the bridge, and really hear what The Other person is going through. We will realign the relationship so that each of you remembers that you are ON THE SAME TEAM so that when disagreements or hurts happen, you can work together to figure out what has happened and how to prevent it in the future. This is true, even when couples are separating and want help to do so respectfully and calmly, or for parents who have separated and want to co-parent effectively. The same principles of being respectful to yourself and the other are crucial to managing a breakup, a divorce, and even your own personal, individual sanity throughout the process.
It used to be that couples would seek therapy because they couldn’t figure out why their son was not excelling at school. Or because they disagreed on a major decision and wanted support in finding a solution. Nowadays, couples don’t seek professional help until multiple major disasters have happened and they are considering splitting up. Very often, multiple major traumas have made one or both partners realize they are at rock bottom before it occurs to one of them to suggest, “Maybe we should talk to someone…” You’d never wait to see a physician until you were on your deathbed. Why wait until you are considering separation to learn the skills needed to improve your relationship’s health?! Initial Couples Consultation includes:
•Recommendations to improve respect & morale
•Identification of individual traits that contribute to conflict in your relationship
•Exercise in effective Communication
•Behavioral groundwork laid to support deeper work in subsequent meetings
•Homework assignments for each partner so that changes continue between meetings
If you are ready and willing, your relationship will experience an immediate shift upon putting into practice what we discover in our initial consultation.