Couples therapy can help resolve conflicts, increase intimacy and stoke the fire that feeds hope and desire within a relationship. It can help partners more clearly see themselves, each other and the relationship they have built. The process of working together to obtain greater clarity may strengthen the partners’ resolve to remain committed to one another.
Couples seek therapy for a variety of reasons. One couple is doing well but wants a check-up to see if they could be doing better. Another has noticed that they are drifting apart and seeks to reverse the drift. Other couples are struggling and experiencing significant pain, anger and loneliness. Having drifted apart, they may be unable to resolve thorny issues related to life goals, finances, sex or having and raising children. Perhaps they are struggling in the wake of an affair or other betrayal. The loving kindness they once had for each other seems like a distant memory and they may wonder if they would be better off single. Although this can be an important question, it can distract from the fact that our core issues will arise in any relationship. For many couples, it may be helpful to reframe the question from “did I make a mistake?” to “given that I will carry these issues to any relationship, am I better off working through them with my current partner, as opposed to someone else?”
Each couple is unique, and includes individuals with a wide range of experiences, positive and negative. People bring their core issues to every relationship, and their couple is no exception. Their current relationship offers an opportunity to work through these issues, strengthening not only the relationship, but also each partner. The hallmark of a healthy relationship is not lack of conflict, but rather the ability of the partners to confront themselves and each other when necessary, and to work through issues as they inevitably arise.
A key aspect of working with a couple is to understand what each partner wants from and for themselves and from and for each other. If the couple wants to stay together, I work with them to find a new, healthier way of relating that helps each of them feel happier and more alive in themselves and in the couple. If the resulting clarity leads to a decision to separate, I help them do so in a way that minimizes conflict and, if possible, preserves positive aspects of the relationship. Much of the work usually focuses on building self-confrontation skills and improving communication. These are paths to increasing understanding within the couple, while at the same time reducing negative patterns and promoting positive ones.
I have received training in both the Gottman Method and Imago Relationship Therapy. My work with couples is also informed by the writings and podcasts of Esther Perel, David Schnarch, Iris Krasnow and others. I offer Discernment Counseling for couples in which one partner is considering divorce, but is not certain it’s the best path.