Do you feel stuck or frustrated in your relationship? Sometimes the most frustrating part in our relationships is that we can see the problem coming, but we just can't stop it. A feeling of "Uh-Oh," along with the thought "here we go again" often accompany this maddening awareness that the same old disconnection and bad feelings are repeating themselves.
I work with couples to heal their wounds and grow from their challenges in three ways:
- Two to three day personalized therapy retreats. This is my preferred method of working because it allows enough time to sink deeply into the work of healing away from the stresses of daily life.
- Weekly therapy sessions, generally 55 minutes as required by insurance companies. Though if you are paying out of pocket we can use a longer session, which is best.
- Workshops provided to multiple couples giving couples the opportunity to learn and practice together in a nonjudgmental and encouraging environment where others are on a similar path.
Why are we stuck?
While there are many individual factors that come into play with any relationship, what we find in practice is that there are two primary reasons that we get stuck:
1. The Pattern of Communication: When we are struggling, we get stuck in negative patterns of interaction with our partners. These patterns are automatic, meaning that the emotions driving behavior are faster than our ability to choose something new. Additionally, these patterns reinforce and strengthen themselves over time.
For example, one partner feels frustrated about not having enough affection in the relationship and each time that frustration is expressed, the other partner feels attacked and automatically withdraws, changes the subject or gets quiet. The less the second partner engages the more frustrated the first partner gets, and the more the first partner expresses that frustration, the more shut-down or distant the second partner becomes. And around and around we go! The problem here is not with one partner or the other. Rather, the problem is the Pattern!
2. Wounds Experienced in the Past: If we have lived long enough, we have all been wounded by those we love. These wounds are often connected to patterns of interaction with our parents or caregivers in childhood. However, sometimes these wounds come from traumatic experiences, previous adult relationships or even experiences from the current relationship. Our minds are very keen to keep us safe, and they translate threats to our most important relationships as threats to our lives. Relationship means survival in very important ways. Therefore, when we experience a challenge in the present that reminds us (consciously or unconsciously) of previous wounds, we can and will take action to fight or flee from the perceived threat.
This is where the pattern comes in. Very often, though not always, one partner's response to a perceived threat will be to 'fight', that is, to pursue more engagement and contact. It is not uncommon for these partners to say something like, "Any response, even an angry or argumentative response is better than silence. Anything is better than nothing." The other partner will often have a 'flee' response, that is, they report more than anything else, "I just want it to stop. Nothing good can come of this. It's too much and I just want things to calm down and be OK." In other words, our ways of dealing with old wounds often feed a cycle in the present that reinforces itself and leaves both partners wanted something new. The more one partner fights, the more the other flees.
I specialize in helping couples break tired old cycles of poor communication and negative emotions and enter into new, caring, supportive and passionate cycles of love.
Take a moment to view this video from Sue Johnson, the originator of EFT and consider taking time apart from the chaos of your daily life to focus on the health of your relationship. It may be the single best investment you can make in your own health and wellbeing.
No crisis is too big to bring to couples therapy. However, you don't have to be in trouble in your relationship to benefit from counseling. Many couples seek counseling with me to build on a good thing or to check in periodically to ensure things continue to go well.
If you are concerned about your relationship or you have further questions about couple therapy, call or e-mail Ned today to set up a consultation:
(828) 734-7318 firstname.lastname@example.org