Family & Relationships Conflict

Turning a Painful Relationship Around Through Couples Therapy

Recently in the midst of a particularly difficult therapy session, a husband threw his hands in the air and said, "This is just hopeless.
It's never going to change.
We're doomed.
" When a couple is involved in an emotionally charged therapy session, what they don't realize is that it is the cycle, their destructive behavioral loop that is the enemy - not each other.
They are caught in a cycle that has a strangle hold on them and are mired in the repetition of reaction and behaviors that is causing distress and distance in their relationship.
It is common for people who have been going around and around the same issues for years to mistake their behavior patterns for the relationship itself.
They don't realize that this destructive behavioral loop is merely the knee jerk response to the deeper, more vulnerable needs that each person in the relationship is working so hard to protect.
Vulnerable feelings are the result of painful life experiences.
We have all experienced situations that have felt hurtful or harmful.
Instinctively, we push these tender feelings away or wall them off because they feel too overwhelming or painful to explore.
We hide from the feelings that are the drivers of our reactive behavior.
Our partner will say or do something that pokes at these tender places and without even realizing it, we are reacting in a way that is self-protective.
It takes time to clear away all of the defenses and behaviors.
People often get too fearful to trust that their partner will meet them half way.
Or they may wonder if there is a fearful part of themselves that is secretly getting in the way of allowing them to let their partner in.
Often, they mistakenly think that it's safer not to trust their partner and to keep their distance rather than to be open.
So, they keep the alarm system armed so that their partner can't come too close.
The irony is that that closeness is exactly what we all want but that we are closing ourselves off from.
Couples therapy creates a safe haven for exploring the behaviors and hidden feelings that are undermining a relationship.
Most people desperately want to connect with their partner.
In couples therapy, I continually instill hope for the relationship and reinforce the desire for closeness and intimacy.
We move through this process slowly and gently so that both of you feel safe and heard.
It can take work in couples therapy to build the bridge back to your partner, but if you allow yourself to stick with the process, the end result can bring you greater happiness than you ever thought possible.

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