Many couples have waited a long time, or have been through many relationships to finally find their “soulmate.” They are hoping that we can finally live happily ever after. So when problems come up, they may feel like a failure, or hopeless.
Every couple comes together with their own set of values, history, upbringing and expectations of being a couple. Oftentimes, these differences don’t come out until later on in the relationship when the honeymoon period is over and both parties feel safe to show other parts of themselves. Sometimes those deeper parts are healthy and sometimes they are unhealthy.
Life also can throw curveballs into a relationship. Work stress. Financial stress (especially here in the San Jose Silicon Valley area). The stress of child rearing. The stress of caring for aging parents. Those and other stresses can put a strain on any relationship, no matter how strong.
Sometimes we come into a relationship with wounds from our families of origin. Oftentimes these wounds stay with us and we bring them into our relationships and these wounds wreak havoc on our bond with our spouse or partner.
Couples counseling can help get your relationship back on track. Bringing issues to light and dealing with them can bring clarity, understanding, and progress. As an experienced therapist with over 17 years in the field, I have helped many couples in the San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont areas over the years.
I provide a safe space for both parties to process feelings, hurts and desires. I allow clients to get on the same page and move forward in their relationships. There is no blame or taking sides. I know that fault finding and blaming will not keep a partner in therapy–so I use positive and strength-based techniques to engage and motivate clients towards change. Oftentimes clients feel closer after a couples counseling session.
This is a very common question. Oftentimes, the spouse is feeling insecure or fearful about coming. We can still make progress with one partner coming. If one part of the system changes, the whole system changes. Oftentimes, I work with one partner on communicating differently or reacting differently to a spouse. This in return often yields a different response in return. And here is where the change starts. Many times, the participating spouse/partner is able to talk about the non-participating partner what they are learning and influence him or her to come in.
Many couples deal with excessive conflict by just not talking about anything. The constant fighting has taken its toll and one or both parties are too tired to fight anymore. So they end up shutting down or ignoring the problem. I can certainly understand some couples end up this way. However, the downside to all of this is that over time, the love grows colder and colder. The distance becomes wider between two people, the intimacy slowly dies, hearts become harder. You may wake up one day not feeling anything towards your partner. And this is the point where it is very hard to recover a relationship.
It is similar to a disease. The sooner you catch it and deal with it, the better your chances are of recovery. The longer you ignore it or wait, the harder it is to heal.
This is a common fear. I often tell couples that I don’t side with one person, but rather, I side with the couple. My goal is to really fight to keep the couple together. In this way, I side with both people who need someone to guide them to reconnection. I find ways that the couple is not working and encourage change within the system.
This does not mean that I would condone infidelity, abuse or addiction. My philosophy is that a couple cannot be healthy with infidelity or abuse. So we would work with those issues as well to make sure those elements are not present in the relationship as we move forward.
I provide a space where couples are able to talk things out in a productive way. I do not feel that two people arguing in session is productive and in fact, is a waste of time. You can argue at home all you want! Why do it in the therapy office? I make it a point to create an atmosphere where people are free to express feelings, but in a way that is not hostile, but instead, productive and conducive to change.
There is no argument there. I see the couples that come into my office who have made time after work or during the day. I’ve seen those that have had to arrange babysitting. Therapy can also add up. And if I could ask them why they come, why spend the time and money, I’m sure they would say: “my marriage is worth it.” or “how could I not”? For anything that we value, we will need to invest the time and money to make it work. Many people will not hesitate to spend 50K and hundreds of hours planning for a wedding but feel hesitant to spend much less time and money on their marriage.
Let’s face it, relationships are hard. We don’t learn how to be in a relationship in school. We have so many bad role models in the media. A lot of us grew up with dysfunctional role models of relationships. So why is there so much pressure to 1) have the perfect relationship and 2)have to figure it all out yourself?
Asking for help is one of the biggest signs of maturity and courage. It shows you are not afraid to face your problems. It shows you want to grow. It shows you have the humility to say “I need help.” It shows your commitment to your partner. Coming to therapy does not mean you are a failure; in fact it is quite the opposite.
Clients come to me after having had problems for a long time. Years. Decades. So it makes sense that one would be skeptical about the efficacy of couples therapy. And you are right, there is no guarantee. However, I have seen many couples make great strides as they put in the effort to be better for their partners and for themselves. I use a technique called EFT (Emotion Focused Therapy). This therapy is unique in that there has been lots of research done on this technique and it has had some proven results. The results show that 9 out of 10 couples make significant change in their relationship.