Anything worthwhile requires work. Relationships are no different.
Couples therapy can give you the space to focus on your relationship and the tools to address the issues that arise. If you are facing challenges in your relationship, rather than simply giving up and walking away, you might want to consider couples therapy.
Often the problems are the result of communication breaking down. Between the demands of work, financial worries, getting up in the night to feed the baby, no longer having time for gym, carting the children to extra murals, cooking, cleaning and taking the rubbish out, you are simply too tired to communicate. Too tired for intimacy.
Behavioural Couples Therapy (BCT) can include coping strategies to help you better manage these challenges and to help create a better home/work balance. It will also equip you with effective ways to deal with conflict and communication challenges. For example learning how to listen, stay present and respond, rather than becoming defensive and reacting. Seeking to understand your partner and acknowledging their point-of-view (even if you don’t agree), is the first step to re-connecting.
Not lost, just changing
It is also important to realise that over time people change. They develop, they grow and mature. The same can be said for relationships. The absence of earlier fireworks often leads to thinking: “I must have fallen out of love.” Most of us think of love as a feeling, right? The problem with this definition of love is that, like all our feelings, they can be a rollercoaster ride – up one minute, down the next or, in this case, daily falling in and out of love.
M Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled) offers a very helpful alternate definition. He describes love as a “decision”. No matter what we may be feeling, if we make the decision to love our partner no matter what, we create a firmer foundation for the relationship.
Another mistake we make is to think of that lost spark as meaning we are no longer in love. M Scott Peck comes to the rescue again by kindly pointing out that the beginning of any relationship is about “infatuation”, when our hormones buzz, we see each other through rose-tinted lenses and we are quite literally, hoodwinked into relationship. When this wanes, we may end a relationship because we believe the love has gone and go off to seek “infatuation” once more. When we do that we miss out on ever really knowing true love. The real thing, true love, is when we emerge from infatuation into a comfortable, deeper, loving sense of companionship. Ask any couple who have been together for many years what the key to that success is, they will say “friendship”.
How BCT can help
Behavioural Couples Therapy can help uncover what triggers you in moments of conflict. You will be surprised at how often, in these moments, we revert to that inner toddler still acting out. Unknowingly, we can be re-enacting issues from our childhood and repeating unhelpful patterns. Becoming aware of our triggers can help us learn to respond differently in the present.
There are many pitfalls that couples fall into unwittingly. Over time, taking each other for granted or lapsing into “mind-reading”. This is when we believe we no longer need to say what we want because our partner “should know” or that we don’t need clarification because we know what our partner is thinking. If you are lucky enough to grow old together, you will never master mind-reading. By your 90s you may certainly know each other really well but never to the point of always knowing what your partner meant by that, or what their failure to do something you expected of them is about. Never assume. Always ask.
Couples therapy can be about rediscovering and re-connecting with each other on a much deeper level, but equally it can be about negotiating an amicable separation or an ending to your relationship.
Relationship is hard work. It is a life commitment. But among the many rewards of this work you may just recapture that loving feeling.
If you feel Couples Therapy might be just what you need, check out my page Couples Therapy or book an appointment here.