You are considering marriage therapy, now what? Many people think all they have to do is show up and their marriage will get better. However, therapy is a commitment; not just a financial commitment but commitment to your spouse and yourself. The commitment is a pledge acknowledging: I will reinvest in my relationship, my partner, move pass my comfort zone and be vulnerable with my partner and myself. I will look inside myself to test assumptions, attitudes (I have toward my partner and our relationship). The pledge is key to having success with therapy because it will help you stay focused when things get difficult; which they will because change does not come from being comfortable it comes from being uncomfortable. Actively changing your attitude, perception, view to gain insight, and growth will help you succeed to become the person you want to be/suppose to be. I believe we all want to be happy but with the demands of today it is getting harder and harder. Reevaluating yourself in this relationship will ultimately create peace, calm, and fulfillment for you!
The first part of couples therapy is spent looking at yourself. It is very easy to pinpoint what the other person is doing wrong in the relationship. Or how the other person is not meeting our needs. We all live in denial as to our part in the relationship not working, so taking a closer look as to how our behaviors, assumptions, and perceptions have impacted the relationship will provide you with insight about yourself. Accepting your need to improve how you respond to the issue will help you become the person you aspire to be. Couples therapy works best when you have goals for yourself and not your partner because ultimately you only have control over yourself.
When you think about the way you communicate, consider the following: the words you choose, your tone of voice, body language, facial expression, sarcasm, or humor. What is your style of communicating? How do you think that impacts your partner? How does your communication create or dismantle communication barriers? Insight into your communication style will help you learn how to communicate effectively with your partner! Also you will begin to learn how other people see your communication approach.
Attitude is key to therapy improving your life and relationship. The way you look at things, impacts your behavior and how you respond to things. It is easy to figure out the issue. The bigger challenge is thinking about the issue different and trying to figure out a different plan of action. This is where it is helpful to have a therapist (like me) to work together brainstorming alternative options for enhancing your communication pattern.
One of the top reasons couples call for couples counseling/marriage counseling is for communication. I tell people, communication is not the issue, you both know how to communicate. The issue is, you don't know how to talk to each other so the other person understands what you are trying to say. After years of the same fight, disappointments, and frustrations, we slowly shut down, close ourselves off. And tell ourselves "something is wrong with the other person, they don't know me" or "I am not important enough to them". As this pattern continues to cycle through our relationship, we find ourselves silent! Silence can end any relationship especially a marital relationship. When we stop talking to our life partners, we stop allowing them into our most inner and vulnerable parts; they slowly go from our comfort and safe place to an invisible wall is built filled with coldness, distance.. In long term relationships there is going to be hurt and pain, hopefully not intentionally caused to us but still it hurts us.
The most important thing is to talk to each other about your views of how your loved one caused you hurt and pain. We know the whole story in our heads but expressing it to another person can be difficult. You have to open yourself up to be vulnerable. You may have anxiety of rejection or misunderstanding. Letting someone into your inner thoughts and insecurities; is a difficult thing. By doing so ensures your delivery and intention is being received by your loved one the way you meant to express yourself. Breaking down your thoughts and feelings with our loved one allows for healing within yourselves and the relationship because you both are able to take a step back and realize how each of you are being viewed.
Start off slowly practicing building better communication. First, discuss how each of you would like to be spoken to. Describing the tone of voice, body language, non verbals each of you need to feel safe enough to talk to one another. Work on that for a few weeks. Providing gentle reminders when old patterns emerge.
Do you find yourself wondering, does he/she really understand me? Why do they always seem to be mad or defensive when I share my thoughts and opinions. One of the biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.
Next time you are having a conversation with someone:
People can get easily frustrated when they feel misunderstood. They will repeat themselves over and over again until they feel understood. Stop the cycle and reflect on the way you communicate.
I believe we crave human connect, especially in the world today. I think the best way to have that need fulfilled is to connect on the emotional level. After all, isn't that really what we want? Someone to say, "ah you belong, I see you!" Think about how you communicate to those important in your life. Please tell me different ways you communicate.
People are in control of their relationships; therapy is there to guide and assist during times of difficulty.