There are many things you can do in relationship and marriage outside of going to therapy.
I have found that relationships improves dramatically if they work on the relationship outside of the session. A lot of this involves working on yourself and your own happiness. Often times people need to look at what’s making them happy, what is and is not working. A lot of individual unhappiness is projected on relationship for the partner to solve, so looking at your own satisfaction is key.
Within the relationship, working on communication and basic listening skills and empathy are important. If couples take time everyday to take interest in their partner and it is reciprocated, this builds equity. If there is a reserve of good feelings, hard times and stressors will be much more easily overcome. Aside from that, the couple needs to plan regular “fun” time together, not just chores/work, but carving out time to be together and take time to smell the roses leads to long term success. There also needs to be time to work on intimacy that is not just sexual. Consistency in this is also key.
You can also identify your family of origin issues. Sometimes we live in two different worlds, our memory of family of origin and our relationship. Sometimes your partners is opposite of your orientation, and actions can be interpreted differently. This is something to keep in mind in the long term, that there is a lot of unconscious material played out.
Daily dialogue is also very helpful. This works by having a question emailed to you, and each partner sits and writes about the question from their own perspective and feelings. Then they read their answer to their partner and they just listen without giving their input. This is a way to understand your partner in different ways. We often spend so much time talking about logistics that we fail to communicate our deeper thoughts.
These are all things you can do on your own, and the more that you do regularly the better your relationship will be.
If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions please call 415-563-4342, or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Regan, MFT has offices in Berkeley near El Cerrito and Oakland and in San Francisco, close to the Civic Center and Nob Hill.
*Quotes are typical of what clients say, though to protect confidentiality, I have not used names or exact words.