Obstacles That Arise in Couples Therapy

It is the hope that couples who make the decision to engage in therapy have the desire to achieve clarity in their relationship.  Trusting one’s partner and the therapist is the bedrock for growth, whether it be in an effort to stay together or to separate. During therapy we discuss and explore many aspects of your life as an individual and as a couple and in some instances we uncover fundamental issues that may cause therapy to break down.

What can hinder the couples therapy process?

#1 Wanting the other partner to change.  Wanting change is the first step in identifying the top layer of a problem. Some changes are plausible to put in to place but both partners have to agree that it is best for the relationship. When a deeper level of change is sought, couples run in to the challenge of expecting too much from their partner. As marriages progress throughout the years, they discover that their partner is different from the person they married. A marked change has taken place and suddenly your partner seems like a stranger. Attention must be paid on a daily basis to the nuances of your partner’s perspective on life. This becomes a sharing opportunity than can lead to cohesion in the relationship rather than surprise and disappointment.

#2 Not owning your part in the problem. Accusation and defensiveness are poisonous in a relationship and they prohibit any real communication from occurring. If you have an issue that sits between the two of you, then you both need to own the problem.  When one person is on the attack, the other person is on the defensive. Presenting a problem in a non-accusatory manner will help stave off a defensive response. Any entry in to a problem has a greater chance of resolution if you accept that you have a part in the problem as much as your partner.

#3 In therapy, it is crucial that an atmosphere of trust is created so that secrets can come out.  This can be hard if an affair, gambling, drug abuse, or financial issues have been hidden in the marriage.  Keeping secrets from your spouse and in therapy will hinder efforts at achieving growth and clarity.  It sometimes feels impossible to reveal something that causes shame or hurt. Admitting to something you have hidden is very scary. It can be an opportunity to deepen the relationship or a deal breaker that will drive the two of you apart. If kept hidden, the secret will find a way to emerge in a surprising and often dysfunctional manner. If there is a deep secret one partner may need some time to meet with me individually to work through a course of action.

#4 Not doing the work. During our time together we explore ideas to find a way out of the tangle that has been created in your relationship. Individuals and couples sometimes think that going to therapy is the work but that is a shortsighted assumption. The real work happens outside the therapy office and that takes the form of incorporating what was discussed in therapy in to your actual life.

My goal is to help you have a very successful couples therapy experience so you can move through your current issues and build a strong relationship or find the strength to move apart.  Bringing your issues in to the therapy room and making a commitment to work, regardless of how hard it may seem, is important in finding the way to move forward on your life’s journey.

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