Relationship Problems & Marriage Counseling
Marriage or couples counseling may be the best mode of therapy for you when problems involve a relationship, boundary issues, or intimate betrayal. Couples counseling can be helpful whether you are married, remarried, living together, separated, dating, engaged, or even divorced but still battling it out.
Whether you’ve grown distant and lost that loving feeling, you keep having that same old fight and feeling the same old disappointment, or your marriage is crumbling under the weight of infidelity or addiction, it’s not too late. There is still hope that you can get your relationship back on track.
- Internet Pornography or Sex Addiction
- Lack of Emotional or Physical Intimacy
- Addictions in the Family
- Money and Finances
- Power Struggles
- Parenting Disagreements
- Problems with In-Laws
- Balancing Time and Priorities
- Navigating Difficult Life Transitions
- Surviving Loss
- Step-family Issues
If you have experience in individual therapy, couples counseling may seem very different. The role your therapist takes and the skills they use will also be different. First and foremost, in most cases, your therapist will prioritize the needs of the relationship over the needs of each individual.
Like in individual counseling, you will be encouraged to develop therapy goals. But in marriage and couples counseling, you will be helped to establish common relationship goals, even if they sometimes run counter to some of your individual goals. Rather than each of you getting what you individually want, you’ll be asked to concentrate on what you are willing to commit to or sacrifice in order to give the relationship what it needs to thrive.
Unlike individual counseling where your therapist may use more indirect methods of encouraging you to talk so you can identify and process your feelings, your marriage counselor is likely to be much more active in directing the flow of communication. This might even mean encouraging you to talk less, so your mate can share his or her perspective. Or coaching your mate on how listen to your heart.
Your therapist may interrupt hostile or unproductive exchanges between you that escalate conflict or sabotage feelings of connection in order to refocus you on communication that deepens your level of intimacy.
We specialize in working with couples trying to salvage their relationship from the ravages of infidelity, sexual addiction, intimacy anorexia, or intimacy deprivation. We take a no-nonsense approach to working with relationship and intimacy issues. You both aren’t going to get exactly what you want. And let’s face it, the way you’ve been going about trying to get what you want is not working.
The point of coming to therapy is to do something different. We say do because do is about behavior, and we find that behavior is an easier place start with change than thoughts or feelings. Ask any child, they will probably tell you that they have said “I’m sorry” when they really didn’t mean it to get out of trouble with a parent or teacher. We make children do this because we know that it will eventually help them to take responsibility and develop empathy, and with time and practice their head and heart will be in harmony when they say it.
The way you break a bad habit and establish a better one is to start doing something new and keep doing it even though it feels awkward or foreign. If you keep doing it even if you don’t think or feel it yet, just like with the child’s apology, the new behavior will eventually become more comfortable and automatic.
Our job is to help you take a time-out from the specific problem that brings you to us, step back, and take stock of the bigger picture of your relationship. And as you have already guessed, once we get an idea of the big picture and what you want it to be, we will start focusing on changing behavior.
We will begin by assessing the issues and stress points involved in your relationship problems, clarifying the current relationship map, identifying resources available for solutions, and discovering each member’s vision for the future of the relationship. Topics included in the toolkit include:
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Marriage First Aid Kit
- Protection & Containment Boundaries
- Listening & Talking Boundaries
- Trust Builders
- Practical Problem Solving Skills
- Negotiation & Decision-Making Skills
- Accountability Plans
- Sensate Focus
- Relationship Enrichment Skills
- Relationship Treasure Maps
- Relationship Mission Statements
- Marriage Remapping
You will be assisted in developing concrete, achievable short-term goals that will begin to move you toward your long-term, shared vision and relationship goals.
RELATIONSHIP TOOL KIT:
The therapy then shifts to remapping your relationship by eliminating intimacy busters – those behaviors and attitudes that can instantly spoil any chance for intimacy to grow, and practicing intimacy builders – those behaviors and attitudes that foster deeper intimacy. We will focus on learning to use relationship tools during our sessions. So, while you are addressing the issues that brought you to therapy, your therapist will become your intimacy coach and guide you in learning how to use the relationship tools to enrich your relationship.
Developing the habit of using your relationship skills is like exercising. If you don’t work out regularly, your muscles will never strengthen, but if you try to do too much too soon, you’ll either hurt yourself or undermine any motivation you might have for being able to keep up that pace. So, you will be given relationship exercises geared toward your level of readiness that will allow you to practice those relationship tools in between sessions. You will also be assigned exercises that build on your strengths and foster relationship resilience. Regular practice will increase your chances of achieving the relationship you both want.
Yes. Although we have worked with couples dealing with many different presenting issues, we have particular expertise in helping relationships restore trust after betrayal. Most couples we counsel are recovering from an affair, pornography, sexual addiction, or intimacy anorexia.
Those trying to rebuild after an infidelity or sex addiction bomb has blown up their lives know that traditional marriage counseling is both ineffective and potentially harmful. This type of betrayal is more than a relationship problem; it is a relational trauma. Suppose the betrayal has only recently been discovered or disclosed. In that case, your first step in healing your marriage will involve a significant period of emotional crisis, a focus on restoring a foundation of truth, and establishing some sense of emotional safety before using more conventional couples counseling techniques to cultivate intimacy.
When infidelity, pornography, or sexual addiction occurs in combination with intimacy anorexia, your betrayal trauma recovery will also need to address the emotional, spiritual, and/or sexual neglect that has damaged your relationship. Focusing on eliminating the acting-out behaviors alone will not be enough to transform your marriage.
Relationship recovery will require that you work with a counselor with specific training in the dynamics of infidelity, sexual addiction, and intimacy anorexia – as well as a solid grounding in trauma resolution.
A professional who uses a trauma-informed, partner-sensitive, relationship nurturing approach can help you restore your intimacy pyramid.
Remember, you don’t have to play out a civil war in your own home or feel lonely in your marriage. Your relationship is your MOST VALUABLE TREASURE. Give it the care it needs.
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