I see all different kinds of couples: pre-marital, married, committed, same sex, young, raising kids, retired – each facing problems that get in the way of feeling loved and satisfied with their relationship.
Do you wonder if you will ever stop having the same argument with your partner? Arguing is common place but having a productive argument and solving old dynamics is rare.
Other couples never argue, but avoid conflict. By avoiding the difficult things, they find they are not as close as they want to be – good friends who lack passion or spark.
Therapy can help you talk about the things that are most important to you while managing intense feelings. It also helps you listen deeply – past the defensive voice in your head, so you really get to know your partner on a deep level.
In couples counseling, you can learn to:
- Create real lasting closeness and intimacy
- Ask for what you want clearly, without walking on eggshells
- See how each person’s childhood experiences and family norms impact your relationship for “or better or worse.”
- Communicate with honesty and clarity
- Promote your partner’s growth
I provide a safe, neutral place for both people to be heard and understood so we can look at the things that matter.
- Is your role in the marriage something you didn’t originally sign up for?
- Do you feel you are “going through the motions”?
- Are you waging the same battle over and over?
- In marriage counseling I teach the skills necessary to negotiate a long, loving life with a partner that is productive, passionate and comforting.
Among the things I provide a married couple is the security of knowing both individuals will be heard and acknowledged. You can also learn useful techniques such as
- How to develop a relationship vision
- How to listen and be heard
- Enhancing the strengths that are in the relationship now
- Learn the skill of negotiation and compromise
One of the tools I use with couples is the Enneagram. It helps you see that your partner isn’t doing things or saying things just to drive you crazy. He/She is trying to get their needs met based on their personality style – just as you are. When each of you knows the other’s personality style and how to connect with that style – where you are similar, where you are different – everything begins to open up. You no longer see your partner’s actions as a personal offense. You will realize you both are doing the best you can given your personalities and your histories. Ironically, it’s from this place of acceptance that couples make room for real and lasting change.
One of the hardest things for many couples is finding ways to talk about their need for alone time or time apart. Each of us has varying needs for time to ourselves. This doesn’t mean we don’t love and want time with our partner. But we may worry that they will feel rejected. And it may be that this worry is based in reality.
When it’s not safe to talk about time apart, some people will communicate through actions or by “acting out.” This usually causes conflict – accidentally creating the very response you wanted to avoid.
Giving and receiving is essential in long-term adult relationships. In some instances it can feel like one person gives too much. In healthy relationships, each person is in charge of their needs, emotions and responses. If you feel like your relationship is out of balance in the area of reciprocity, read my article on Reciprocity: Healthy Ideas for Couples.
You may find some of these book suggestions helpful.
To find out a little more on this topic please check out my article “Time Alone/Time Apart.“
If you would like to learn more about how you can begin therapy, or have any questions please call 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312, 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. 415-563-4342 or 510-883-9312.
*Quotes are typical of what clients say, though to protect confidentiality, I have not used names or exact words.