Couples Therapy

  • Are you at the end of your rope?
  • Feeling like all you ever do is fight (or never really talk)?
  • Does every attempt to fix your relationship leave you discouraged?

Many couples think about counseling when it seems like they've tried everything else. You may be worried that your problems are too big to solve. But most couples find they can overcome their problems when they have the right tools and a fresh perspective.

Who's to blame?

It's usually easier to see how the other person contributes to the problem than to see our own roles. Therapy helps clarify that neither one of you is to blame. Each of you responds to the stresses in your relationship based on your history, your personal needs, and where you are in your life. You are both doing the best you can to get your needs met. But sometimes, the ways you do so backfire.

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What we really need is a good listening to

When people have communication problems, it's often that they don't feel their partner is really hearing or understanding them. Sometimes, just learning active listening techniques can restore feelings of love and closeness.

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Resolving conflict

Sometimes listening is just the first step. Few of us have been taught to resolve conflict effectively and respectfully. Couples therapy is a place where you can learn and practice these skills. It's also a place to acknowledge that some disagreements are not resolvable - but that doesn't mean the relationship is over! You can disagree with an idea or choice and still love the person who made that choice.

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Us against the world

Many couples face challenges and upsets that are just part of life. But these stressors can take a toll on the bond between you - especially if you don't know how to help each other through the rough times (or how to receive help).

Learning what the other person is facing from their perspective helps us see that the behaviors that drive us crazy are really just their attempt to cope with pain or difficulty. This realization helps us stop taking those behaviors personally. That makes it easier to be compassionate - to help them feel soothed and to turn to each other for support.

Together, you can work on becoming co-leaders of the family team, appreciating each person's strengths, working toward shared goals, and creating a loving, nurturing space for each of you to bring life's stressors.

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Keeping love alive

Love needs regular maintenance, just like a car. Regular tune-ups ensure the engine works properly and your tires still have plenty of tread. In therapy, you can work together to create a shared vision of your relationship and establish the steps you will take to make that vision a reality. This is the time to look at how each of you feels loved and valued.

You may talk about your physical and emotional needs for intimacy - and how those needs go through normal changes over the life of a marriage or long term relationship. This may be a time to help each other overcome early emotional wounds or limiting beliefs about security and power - things that lie hidden under the repetitive arguments about money, child raising, chores and in-laws.

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Me vs. We

Therapy is also a place to help establish the personal boundaries that create a strong sense of self for each of you - while also nurturing the relationship. Each of you has personal needs for friendships, time alone, and individual goals. Each of you has a different personality style. Balancing your individual needs can help bring freshness and life to the relationship on an ongoing basis.

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How Couples Therapy works

I tailor therapy to each couple. In the beginning, my job is to get to know you both, as individuals and as a couple. Together we can identify which stage your relationship is in, and what is needed most at this time. When it's helpful and makes sense, we may look at your early family experiences and see how they are impacting you today. Or we may stick to what's happening right how, working on identifying the patterns of behavior and communication that don't work, and making small, do-able changes to get better results. Couples sessions are 90 minutes in length so that you both have enough time to talk and to practice new skills. Homework is assigned between sessions to help keep you on track and make your sessions as productive as possible.

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You might also be interested in learning more about divorce and infidelity.

For more information or to book a session,
contact Heather Marchman, Marriage and Family Therapist.

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