Are You And Your Partner Struggling To Communicate?
Do you worry that your partner doesn’t understand your needs? Does it seem like you’re always talking over each other? Have ongoing and repetitive conflicts led you to question your future together?
Communication issues may have arisen because you’re working through a life transition with your partner. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to move in with them or get engaged because of all the misunderstanding in your relationship. Perhaps you’re having trouble working through disagreements about parenting.
Maybe your family or your partner’s family has expectations for your relationship that you simply can’t fulfill. If you come from different cultural backgrounds, navigating these differences can be complicated. Furthermore, you may have brought patterns from previous relationships into your current partnership.
You And Your Significant Other May Feel Unwilling To Budge On Important Issues
Sometimes, both of you may find it difficult to compromise. Rather than thinking about how you can work together to solve problems, you view compromising as a loss. It’s hard for either of you to approach compromise from a place of empathy—instead, it becomes a competition. Although you want to trust your partner, these conflicts can cause doubts. You might even be worried that your relationship problems could lead to infidelity or breaking up.
When you and your partner clash, you probably can’t help but feel triggered—and naturally, your partner’s strong emotions drive their own response. You might feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of arguments.
As much as you want to be happy together, genuine happiness probably feels elusive for both of you. A couples counselor can help you approach challenges with empathy for your partner so that you can overcome these problems and find joy together.
For Many Couples, Listening Is A Skill That Takes Practice
All couples struggle with communication issues and compromise at different points throughout their relationships. Active listening is a skill that needs to be learned, and many people in relationships tend to listen to respond rather than listen to understand. This leads to a lack of empathy and vulnerability within the relationship.
Overall, many couples struggle to form a healthy, long-lasting bond because empathy is missing from their relationship. Both partners need to be able to view problems from the other’s perspective and demonstrate a willingness to compromise.
Lots Of People Don’t See Healthy Relationships Modeled At Home
We imitate the behaviors and habits of the couples we saw growing up. As a result, many of us repeat the unhealthy patterns that we were exposed to when we were younger. Sometimes, socioeconomic factors are at the root of this issue: for example, 67% of Black children grow up in a single-parent home. Ultimately, it is difficult to replicate a happy, healthy relationship if you’ve never witnessed it yourself.
Furthermore, even after entering into a relationship, some people continue to act as though they are not one half of it. Other times, couples can replicate a “parent-child” dynamic, in which one partner treats the other as though they are not on equal footing.
You and your partner can learn how to listen in a way that promotes understanding. In couples counseling, your therapist can help you practice healthy communication styles, deepen your empathy for each other, and cultivate the happiness that you’ve been missing.
Couples Therapy Can Help You And Your Significant Other Increase Empathy
You might be worried that a couples therapist would “pick a side” during sessions. Alternatively, you may be concerned that you’ll end up fighting with your partner in sessions. But couples therapy isn’t about choosing sides or pitting one partner against the other. Your therapist will help you come together to solve problems as a team, and in the process, you and your partner will become more comfortable with emotional vulnerability.
In couples therapy, your counselor will provide a space where you can listen to each other with empathy. You’ll learn about the importance of acknowledging and validating your partner’s emotions even when you don’t completely agree with them. With valuable insight from a third party, you can work through problems in your relationship with a fresh point of view.
What To Expect In Couples Therapy Sessions
Before your first session, you and your partner will each fill out a questionnaire with details about your history as a couple, your perspective on your relationship now, and your strengths and weaknesses within the relationship.
In each session, we’ll go over problems that you had trouble handling over the course of the week. Your therapist will create a safe, open environment where you can explore your issues together with guidance and direction to find workable solutions
We will typically spend some time discussing how previous experiences in relationships and past trauma influences your connection in the present. When you understand why these patterns have developed, you and your partner can become more empathetic towards each other. You’ll both feel motivated to comfort each other rather than approach conflict as a competition.
Treatment Approaches For Couples Counseling
Couples often find themselves falling into patterns of emotional reactivity: when one partner says something triggering, the other reacts negatively, which creates a troubling cycle. In our practice, we apply an emotionally-focused approach to couples therapy. We’ll explore how your own emotional responses can influence your partner’s reaction patterns.
We also incorporate principles from the Gottman method, which emphasizes building a strong foundation for your relationship through honest communication. Additionally, we’ll work on conflict resolution skills and better approaches for communication based on the unique challenges you’re facing.
At the end of each session, your therapist will typically give you and your significant other a homework assignment to complete together. These homework assignments will be based on the topics you discussed during your session. They can include compromise and cooperation exercises, planning set date nights, or practicing new communication skills to increase your empathy.
Many couples are surprised to find that the problems they’re dealing with are actually very common, and plenty of couples are able to overcome these issues and build healthier connections. If you’re willing to work to improve your relationship, couples therapy can be highly effective and life-changing.
But You May Still Have Questions About Couples Therapy…
What if therapy is too expensive?
Many couples who could benefit from therapy worry that the cost would be a barrier. At our practice, we offer payment options that make therapy more affordable for our clients. We do not bill insurance for couples counseling, as it is a private pay service. However, we have sliding scale fees to ensure that costs are reasonable for those with financial need.
How long will my partner and I need to be in therapy?
Your needs as a couple are unique to you. You might only need a few sessions to address your problems, or you may want to spend several months to a year in therapy. Ultimately, you and your partner can decide how long you wish to continue with counseling.
When can we expect to see improvements in our relationship?
There is no specific timeline for healing. The improvements you see will depend on how much effort you and your partner are willing to put in during therapy and outside of sessions. By completing weekly homework assignments and coming to each session prepared with topics and goals to discuss, you’ll likely see positive changes more quickly. Your therapist can help facilitate your growth and development, but ultimately, it’s up to you to make the changes you want to see in your relationship.
You Can Strengthen Your Relationship Through Couples Therapy
If you and your partner are interested in learning more about couples counseling, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation through our website. When you’re ready to book your first session, you can schedule a consultation here or call our practice at 214-612-7475.