Do you feel misunderstood or unheard by your partner?

Have you noticed an increase in negativity, arguing or criticism in your relationship?

I can teach you and your partner to stop fighting and start building the relationship you both want.

 

For many couples, sustaining the emotional connection that helped them weather the storms of their early relationship is difficult in the face of life's ongoing stressors and challenges.

Invariably, two partners have different communication patterns, ways of managing conflict, money styles, sexual desires and parenting methods, as well as  social, emotional and spiritual needs. Each partner brings to the relationship his or her own wounds and insecurities as well as the strengths and allure that attracted you initially. 

You were drawn together and bonded with each other, and you want to resolve the differences that now make you feel distant, unconnected and unappreciated.

You can learn to give and receive emotional support. Healthy, committed couples rely on some basic tools to create and maintain a loving connection. The love that brought you together can be renewed, sustained and enhanced. You can learn how to create a full, fun and satisfying relationship.

 

How can therapy help?

Partners in a couple are often hungry for emotional connection. Erasing the conflicts, criticisms and misunderstandings may be the surface problem, but underneath, love is what every person craves -- we all need love, and we all need connection. We want to feel truly cared about and deeply understood. We want to know that our innermost feelings matter to the person we are in partnership with.

The foundation of healing in a couple is repairing the emotional divide that exists between partners. Some couples have never been able to create true emotional connection because one or both partners suffers from insecurities, mistrust or trauma. Other times, a connection has existed, but has withered or been destroyed by life's challenges.

In therapy, I can help each of you identify and express what you want and need to feel safe and secure. I can coach you to put words to your feelings and to access the emotions that are hard to talk about. When you clarify what you need, and communicate this to your partner in a way that he or she can understand without feeling criticized, your partner can hear you and can learn to respond with the support you desire. In therapy, I can guide each of you to articulate what you need so that your partner can become more attuned and responsive to you. As you build a foundation of mutual emotional support, you and your partner can learn to express what you want clearly and discuss your differences empathically.  With the help of therapy, you can learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflict, manage disappointment and heal resentment. Therapy can help you build a happier, more connected and more satisfying relationship.

 

We've been to therapy before and it didn't help. Why try again?

Thee are many reasons why some couples therapy is not successful. Sometimes, there simply isn't a good enough therapist-client connection, not because anyone is at fault, but because the chemistry just isn't right. Other times, couples who seek help may not be prepared to do the work that successful therapy requires. However, past experiences do not have to be a predictor of future outcomes.

Often, couples enter therapy with the hope that their partner will change, and that will make things work out. Or that they need to see their partner "change first" before they are willing to look at their own part. But the reality is, you cannot change another person. Perhaps either you or your partner was not willing to look at your own part of the problem, and therapy bogged down at the point when the hope and expectation that the other person would change did not materialize.

For therapy to help repair a partnership, both members of a couple must be invested in doing their own work in the context of the relationship. You each bring to your relationship your own needs, feelings and insecurities as well as your own history, hopes and expectations. What brings people together in a relationship is the desire for a safe, loving connection. But achieving and sustaining that in a world filled with myriad challenges can be daunting. When partners come together in therapy to learn how they can regain the connection they once had, each partner must acknowledge his or her own fears, needs and disappointments, as well as communicate these to their partner. Only when each of you articulates what you need and is willing to listen, understand and respond to your partner, can you achieve the connection you both desire and heal the rifts that have developed.

 

What if my problems don't seem big enough to need therapy?

Great! I'm glad you are not having big problems! It's easier to talk about things when there are only minor differences to work out. Taking the small problems to therapy can help prevent them from becoming big resentments later. Learning more about what you each need and want in your relationship can make you a happier couple!

Remember when premarital counseling was recommended? No matter how well-matched we are with our partners, we are still two different people with two different personalities, histories and family backgrounds, and the more adept we can become at supporting our partner while taking care of our own needs, the stronger and more satisfying our relationship can become. You want the love that brought you together to grow and flourish, and building a strong foundation -- including resolving your little differences while they remain little -- can help you create the lasting, loving partnership you both want. 

 

What if my partner won't come to therapy?

It can be frustrating -- you know (and your partner knows, too) that the two of you are going through a rough patch. You would like to get help . . . but he (or she) is adamant that you can work it out by yourselves. 

This is not an unusual situation. After all, two people in a couple are bound to have differences, including in their problem solving approaches. And neither of you is wrong. Probably part of what brought you together in the first place was seeing certain traits in your partner such as confidence or the capacity to solve problems!

One approach is to go see a couple's therapist on your own. This way you can have a safe place to voice your feelings and get support for yourself.  With some of your inner intensity relieved by talking, you can be in a calmer place when you return to resolve things with your partner.  Furthermore, you can learn tools for better communication and positive conflict resolution to bring back to your relationship. As you change how you approach him (or her), he (or she) may begin to shift a little, too. Relationships operate like a dynamic system that seeks to stay balanced -- when one person shifts, the other often shifts, too. He or she may appreciate the changes you are making, and without even realizing it, begin to change, too. And, he (she) may become curious enough about how your are being helped that he (or she) will ask to come to therapy with you!

If you would like to talk about how I can help you build connection and restore understanding in your relationship, please email me at avisrumney@me.com or use this link to send me an email or call me at (415) 602-1403.