Monogamous relationship counseling/couples counseling
How can couples therapy help me/us? Couples therapy can help in numerous ways. Many people appreciate the presence of a neutral observer. Often this helps couples to experience more clarity about the issues that are upsetting or confusing them. One of the primary ways that I can help is by assisting you in communicating with each other in ways that promote closeness, clarity and cooperation.
I can help you and your partner to have a better understanding of your needs, your partner’s needs, and your needs as a couple. With therapy, you and your partner may find that you can:
Communicate more effectively
Understand and improve the way you deal with each other’s emotions
Learn how to argue – productively
Repair the damage that resentment causes
Learn how to talk about difficult subjects
Get more of what you want and less of what you don’t want
Build trust and closeness
Have more fun together
Other areas that couples may choose to see me for therapy include:
Affairs – support in processing and moving forward
Amicable divorce or short term separation– I support couples who want support when they have determined that the healthiest solution is to stop hurting one another and separate.
Deciding to have children and/or counseling to support the changes that occur when a child becomes part of the family.
How I work with couples and tips for getting relief even before coming to see me. First of all, allow me to applaud and congratulate you for finding your way to this page about Couples Counseling. For many people, despite years of suffering, it is extremely difficult to initiate change. Believe me, your willingness to and interest in even looking into couples work is an excellent first step that will serve you well as you begin therapy with me.
Many couples who come to me find that they have been working themselves to the point of exhaustion and misery to do the very things that aren’t working in their relationships. And not only are these tactics not working, they are actually driving their partners further away.
Let me give you some tips that may offer you and your partner some immediate relief – even if you do not take the next step to come to counseling with me:
1) Stop using bullying, nagging, or logic to attempt to persuade your partner into taking your side, meeting your needs, or loving you better. This does not work.
Think about the tactics you employ when making a new friend: Do you coerce the relationship into being or do you try to woo that person into friendship with you by sharing your best qualities? Hostility in all its forms makes others frightened of you. It does not inspire affection, openness or compassion in either friends or partners.
Even if this approach has some application in your business role, leave hostility and power games at the office. Similarly, physical violence of any kind is unacceptable and requires immediate assistance. Neither emotional nor physical abuse belongs in intimate relationships.
2) Learn the marvelous healing power of “taking a time out”. If I can give you one golden tip to improve your relationship, it is this one: When you are emotionally and physically “flooded” (i.e: your heart rate is increased, fight or flight physiology is engaged, you may be sweating, you may have tunnel vision, your voice is raised, your muscles are tense, and blood and oxygen are not flowing at their optimal rates to your brain): tell your partner that you need to take time away from the conversation to soothe yourself. This make take 20 minutes or it may take several hours. In any case, do not use this to punish your partner. In taking a time out, you are simply taking responsibility for the fact that when in fight or flight mode you can actually damage your relationship. In stepping away, you are lovingly protecting your partner and your relationship.
Only re-engage in contact with your partner when you are again at your calm best. When we are calm, we have fullest access to our compassion for others and to access to creative solutions (not just the one we get fixated on when aroused). From this place, couples can work as a team (not as lawyers on opposite sides of an intense legal case) to come up with mutually beneficial solutions.
If you would like more practice and more tips in this vein, please contact me for a couple’s session. I see couples for increments of either 50 minutes or 1.5 hour sessions. I look forward to working with you.
If you wish to get started today, check out one of the three excellent books below. Since I use and refer to all of them in my work with couples, reading ahead will allow our work to begin more quickly. If you cannot afford counseling right now, each book in itself is an excellent primer into how to improve your relationship.
Please note, these books, despite their titular reference to “marriage” are equally applicable for non-married couples, gay and lesbian couples (married or not), and pre-married couples.
Michelle Weiner-Davis – The Divorce Remedy: The Proven 7 Step Program for Saving Your Marriage
John Gottman – The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Poly/non-monogamous/“monogamish”/ and open relationships
I work regularly with non-monogamous couples, individuals and groups. I have a tremendous appreciation for the high quality of communication skills and thoughtful effort that open relationships require and I thoroughly enjoy working with couples and groups who have this orientation. Specific ways (beyond those that mirror the strategies that I have outlined above for monogamous couples) that I can help non-monogamous couples, individuals and groups include:
Supporting folks in clarifying agreements and boundaries
Helping a couple or group invite a new partner into the relationship
Repairing when communication or agreements have broken down
Guiding couples who are curious about opening their relationship in discussing this in a supportive and non-judgmental environment
Neuro-typical/Autism-Spectrum or Asperger’s mixed couples
I work regularly with couples who are struggling with communication issues rooted in one partner being “neuro-typical” and the other being somewhere on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum. I am skilled at “translating” needs for both partners and helping raise awareness of neuro-diversity within the couples so that both partners feel more clearly heard, understood and have a better chance of meeting each other’s’ needs.